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Rural Clean Water Program - York Region

Since 1997, the Rural Clean Water Program has been improving water quality by partnering with agricultural and rural communities to reduce water contamination on agricultural and rural lands.

The concept of the Rural Clean Water Program (RCWP) began in 1986 when pollution of public swimming beaches became a significant issue. Over the next 10 years, Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) worked with a number of partners to develop and administer water quality programs that identified pollution sources and provided recommended courses of action leading to the restoration and long term maintenance of acceptable water quality.  With assistance from the following program partners and supporters, the Rural Clean Water Program was officially created in 1997:

  • Region of York
  • Province of Ontario
  • York Federation of Agriculture
  • York Soil and Crop Improvement Association


The following grants are available to farm or rural non-farm landowners who implement projects to construct new structures, upgrade or repair existing structures (under certain circumstances), and/or enhance land resources as part of their RCWP project proposal application. A single property may be eligible for grants under each category.  Applicants are encouraged to seek funding from other sources as grants may be combined. Total grants paid from the Rural Clean Water Program in combination with funding from other sources cannot exceed 80% of the total project cost (with some exceptions).  Applicants are required to inform Program staff if additional funding is secured.

Eligible Project

Grant Rate

Grant Cap

Barnyard Runoff Control & Clean Water Diversion



Cover Crops

$25/acre up to 80 acres*

Education & Training



Erosion Control Structures



Fuel & Chemical Storage



Integrated Pest Management



Irrigation Management



Livestock Fencing from Environmentally Sensitive Features



Manure Storage & Handling Systems and Composting Facilities



Milkhouse Washwater Disposal



Natural Area Enhancement & Creation



Nutrient Management Plan



Nutrient Management Strategy



Private Septic System Upgrade



Private Well Decommissioning



Private Well Upgrade



Silage Storage Enhancement & Relocation



Tree Planting



*       Limited to once over the life of the program
**     Limited to once per year
***   100% grant rate will apply on materials only if installed by landowner
****  Only available to farms not currently phased into nutrient management



1) A grant to implement all or parts of a RCWP project proposal application may be paid to an individual applicant* who:

a) Is a resident of Ontario; and

b) Is a registered owner** of the property.

 * A partnership or corporation, controlled by Ontario residents, is considered to be one applicant and must meet all of the above conditions.

** Under this program, a person is deemed to be the owner of land if:

i) The person is the registered owner of the land and resides in the Province of Ontario for a minimum of 180 days per year; or

ii) The person leases the land for farming from the registered owner and has signed a lease that is satisfactory to RCWP staff.

2) The project must be located in TRCA's jurisdiction in the Region of York and protects, restores and/or enhances surface or ground water quality, air or soil quality and/or fish and wildlife habitat.

3) Projects must meet all legal requirements including but not limited to:

  • Canada Farm Building Code
  • Conservation Acts
  • Ontario Building Code
  • Provincial Acts
  • Provincial and Regional highway setbacks
  • Regional and Municipal official plans and by-laws

 4) The following costs are eligible for grant assistance:

  • Required permits
  • Purchased materials and supplies
  • Professional fees
  • Fees for design, construction and supervision. Renovations to existing structures must demonstrate a program benefit.

5) Innovative technologies and projects that do not fall within current project categories may be considered on a project by project basis and are subject to approval by Program staff, York Region, and the Approvals Committee. Innovative technologies and projects must clearly demonstrate program benefits. For more information on what may or may not be considered an eligible innovative technology or project please contact Program staff.

6) York Region, in consultation with RCWP partners, will review the eligible project categories and program guidelines from time to time and may alter these at its discretion.

Please note:

  • A completed Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is recommended. Priority consideration will be given to projects on farms that have a completed EFP.
  • All approvals and permits are the responsibility of the applicant.
  • The labour, machinery use and in-kind time of the applicant, the applicant's immediate family, and the applicant's business are not an eligible cost.



1. Contact Program staff to verify that your proposed project meets RCWP guidelines and to arrange a site visit to your project location prior to project implementation. Program staff can help provide and co-ordinate technical assistance to develop your project as well as provide guidance to current project eligibility.

2. Obtain a RCWP project proposal application from Program staff.

3. Complete all sections of your RCWP project proposal application, sign the project application form, and submit the application and supporting documentation to Program staff. RCWP staff are available to assist you in this process.

4. Using the information on your RCWP project proposal application and information gathered on the site visit, Program staff will develop and then present an anonymous* project summary to the Approvals Committee for consideration.

5. The Approvals Committee will evaluate the project based on its conformity to the RCWP guidelines and on its potential to protect and improve environmental quality. The Approvals Committee has the option to approve, deny or defer and/or place conditions on funding. The Approvals Committee meets on a quarterly basis or as required.

6. Once the RCWP project proposal application has been reviewed and approved by the Approvals Committee, you will be notified by Program staff to proceed with the project.

7. When the project is complete, paid for in full, and you have copies of all receipts and other pertinent documents (i.e. permits), notify Program staff. A final site visit is required to confirm that the project has been completed as outlined in the project proposal application.

8. Upon confirmation of requirements in Step #7, your cost-share payment will be processed and sent to you via mail.

Please Note: If you have an outstanding violation with Toronto and Region Conservation or any other regulatory agency, you may not be eligible for program assistance.

* Projects on properties within a Source Water Protection threat area and which require a Risk Management Plan will be reviewed by the Region of York's Source Water Protection Risk Management Office. Property information, such as owner name and address, will be shared with the Risk Management Office during this review process.  If the project is approved by both the Risk Management Office and the Approvals Committee, these projects may be viewed as a higher priority for funding.AREA OF ELIGIBILITY:


The map below illustrates the Rural Clean Water Program's area of eligibility for landowner participation in York Region (shown in orange). Please contact Toronto and Region Conservation for more information or to begin your application.

The map illustrates Toronto and Region Conservation's jurisdiction within York Region. Farm and/or rural non-farm landowners living within the area shown in orange should contact Toronto and Region Conservation at 416-661-6600 extension 5349.  Landowners



1. Grants are limited to properties within TRCA's jurisdiction, in the Region of York, with a completed RCWP project proposal application, that have the potential to significantly protect, enhance and/or restore environmental quality.

2. Grants are limited to enhancing and/or restoring water, air, soil or fish and wildlife habitat quality or preventing water, air, soil or fish and wildlife habitat impairment problems on existing farms. New operations, additions to the farmstead, new buildings or building expansions to increase herd capacity are not eligible under this program. A grant may be paid on a pro-rated basis for livestock operations only under the following circumstances:

  • In cases where the structure has been sized and constructed for an expanded operation, a simple arithmetic formula will be used. For example, a farmer currently has a herd of 50 dairy cows (including heifers and dry cows) and plans to expand to 75; the storage is sized and constructed for the 75 herd size. The eligible grant would be calculated based on 50/75 or 66% of the final cost of the project.
  • In cases where the herd size has not increased and where the structure has been constructed larger than that proposed in the approved RCWP project proposal application and in excess of the 400 day program maximum, a simple arithmetic formula will be used. The volume of the approved structure will be divided by the volume of the structure constructed to arrive at the pro-rating factor.

3. Any applicant who proceeds with a project before it has been approved by the Approvals Committee has no assurance that financial assistance will be provided.

4. An applicant must specify the program year in which the project will be completed. If the project cannot be completed within the specified year, the grant will not be paid. However, applicants may request, in writing, an extension from Program staff.

5. Projects initiated and/or completed before April 1st of the previous program year are not eligible for funding. For completed projects applying for retro-active funding, the Approvals Committee reserves the right to approve a project with conditions so that the maximum environmental benefit is ensured.

6. Funds will be allocated on a priority basis. Those projects with the higher potential for improving environmental quality will be considered first.

7. If the projects proposed in a single year exceed the annual budget, the Approvals Committee may restrict the number of grants available to meet local priorities and budgets. Applicants may apply again in the following year.

8. Other financial assistance programs can be used in combination with RCWP grants. Applicants cannot use outside funds as their cost-share contribution to the project.


For more information or to discuss your project and to arrange a site visit, please contact:
Nadine Abrams, C.E.T.
Coordinator, Rural Clean Water Program
Toronto and Region Conservation
Office: (416) 661-6600 ext. 5349