Rural Water Quality Programme

Ground water needs to be protected to meet the needs of current and future residents. 

Initiated in 1999, the Wellington Rural Water Quality Programme (WRWQP) provides financial and technical assistance to Wellington County farmers, implementing voluntary projects to improve and protect water quality. The program, funded by the County, is administered by the Grand River Conservation Authority and delivered by local Conservation Authority staff.

The WRWQP has provided over $9.9 million in grant to support 3,297 projects since 1999. Wellington County has provided $7.7 million in grant with the remaining funding coming from a variety of sources including $1 million in past contributions from the City of Guelph. Landowners have contributed close to $17.4 million toward the completion of these projects for a total investment of over $27.3 million to improve and protect local surface and groundwater quality.

Programme Impacts 

  • An estimated 63,849 kg of phosphorus is retained on the landscape annually resulting from projects implemented since 1999.
  • 936 tree planting projects have resulted in over 900,000 trees planted on 1,460 acres. This includes the establishment of 220 km of windbreaks and 74 km of stream and wetland buffer.
  • 543 water wells were properly decommissioned and 573 upgraded to protect groundwater.
  • 112fencing projects have restricted nearly 5,000 livestock, creating buffers and stabilizing banks along 48 km of watercourse.
  • 192 cover crop projects protected 11,394 acres from water and wind erosion.
  • 210 nutrient management plans help to guide efficient nutrient applications on an estimated 42,836 acres.
  • 193 manure storage facilities improved to avoid winter spreading and efficiently manage nutrients.
  • Projects and practices funded through the RWQP are consistent with elements of current source protection plans, which protect sources of municipal drinking water.
Riparian buffer of green grasses and trees

This riparian buffer (above) established through the RWQP in 2000, provides excellent streambank protection for this tributary of the Conestogo River.

2020 Highlights

  • Wellington County contributed $425,000 to support the program. This included $50,000 dedicated to well upgrade and decommission projects on non-farm properties.
  • 114 projects were completed in Wellington County by 98 landowners.
  • In 2020, a total of $259,389 was provided to landowners through the WRWQP. Of that, $257,621 was provided by Wellington County with an additional $1,768 leveraged from other funding sources. Due to COVID-19, the GRCA spring 2020 tree planting projects were deferred; this category often leverages other funding sources such as the Forests Ontario 50 Million Tree program.
  • $259,946 was allocated to projects to be completed in 2021.
  • Staff connected with producers in early 2020 at FarmSmart, the Wellington
  • Cattlemans’ AGM and the Wellington Milk Committee, and in late 2020 at the virtual Wellington Soil and Crop Improvement Association AGM.