Hocking reflects on 15 years of the Huron Clean Water Project
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
With the Huron Clean Water Project celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2020, it offered those behind the project an opportunity to reflect on all that has been accomplished in the county over that time.
Doug Hocking, a water quality specialist with the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority, spoke to the program at Huron County Council’s Feb. 3 meeting, providing a year in review for 2020 for council.
The program was launched in 2004, he told council, with the first projects being completed in 2005. It is a voluntary Huron County initiative that provides funding and technical assistance for best management practices for farmers, rural residents, cottagers, villagers and more to improve water quality throughout the county.
Delivered by the Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley Conservation Authorities, the program is administered by way of a project review committee comprised of Huron County councillors, a citizen appointee and a representative of the farming community.
Hocking told councillors that 2020 was another successful year for the program, administering 260 approved projects. That, he said, was on par with 2019, meaning that the COVID-19 pandemic did not slow applications at all.
Of the 290 new project applications received in 2020 (compared to 292 in 2019), 260 were approved with the other 30 were denied. With $400,000 allocated to the project for the year from Huron County, the estimated value of the projects that went ahead in the year was just under $1.9 million – a greater than 6:1 matching ratio to the county’s base funding allocation.
Nearly all of the projects (243) were completed in 2020, compared to 251 completed projects in 2019.
Hocking said tree-planting projects accounted for 29 per cent of the approved grants, followed by erosion control at 20 per cent, cover crop projects at 15 per cent and well projects at nine per cent, accounting for the top four project categories.
These projects, however, were just a drop in the bucket when compared to the success of the program since it began over 15 years ago.
In that time, Hocking told council, the Huron Clean Water Project has supported the completion of 3,172 initiatives with reported projects costs in excess of $13 million.
Since the project’s inception, approved projects include: 864 tree-planting projects, 591 wells decommissioned, 404 wells upgraded, 24,000 acres of cover crops planted, 216 kilometres of windbreaks planted, 273 erosion control projects completed and 99 unused liquid manure storages decommissioned.
Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn congratulated Hocking on the ongoing success of the program, saying he has likely completed over 12 projects on his home farm over the years and he believes in it strongly.