About ERCA

Cedar Creek

Our Beginning

Like All Conservation Authorities in Ontario, the Essex Region Conservation Authority is empowered through provincial legislation to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources other than gas, oil, coal and minerals. This mandate remains as valid today as it was in 1946, when the first Conservation Authority was established.

ERCA was established in 1973 as one of the last Conservation Authorities in Ontario to work toward restoring some of the region’s original character and to manage conservation issues. Located at the tip of Southern Ontario, ERCA has jurisdiction in nine municipalities. These include the City of Windsor, Town of Pelee and the seven municipalities in Essex County that collectively comprise Canada’s South Coast. Nineteen representatives from these communities make up our Board of Directors. The area of our jurisdiction measures 1,681 square kilometres.  To provide effective services and programs, we work in partnership with our member municipalities, federal and provincial ministries and other organizations.

We are uniquely organized on a watershed basis. A watershed is the area of land that drains to a river, creek or lake. We all live in and are connected by watersheds, and to protect water quality and use water wisely, we must understand this ecological neighbourhood. Because we cross municipal boundaries, all environmental decisions can be assessed on the basis of their impact on the entire watershed. What we do on the land is reflected in the quality and quantity of our drinking water sources.


How It Works

The rain or snow caught by a watershed drains and/or seeps into marshes, streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. As a drop of water flows across fields, forests and towns and as it joins others in the river, nature, including humans, affects it in many interconnected ways. Each watershed is unique with different features and concerns; they come in all shapes and sizes, and several smaller watersheds may combine to form a larger watershed. While the Essex Region has 23 sub-watersheds, they collectively drain into three larger watersheds – Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River watersheds.

The Principles and Values Guiding our Actions


There are timeless principles that unify the way we provide service. They are like the hub of a wheel that integrates our decision making. We use these principles, beliefs and values to assess and align our actions.

Watershed Management

We are passionate about making our region a healthy and sustainable community. We strongly believe that a healthy environment, healthy economy and the human health of our residents are critically linked.  We believe that individual contributions make a difference and we will equally involve urban and rural residents and partners in achieving environmental goals.

Locally-Based Initiatives

We are realistic conservationists who are committed to providing excellent customer service and a solution-oriented approach to conservation. We will work to achieve balance and fairness in considering private property rights and the public good. We are dedicated to open, two way communication.  We will listen and respond to our constituents’ concerns.


We value quality over quantity, and determining priorities over being all things to all people.  We will be accountable and responsible in the use of our resources.  Our work ethic is based on integrity, honesty, fairness and reliability toward those we serve and those with whom we work.  We will be innovative, flexible, willing to take risks, encourage continuous learning and celebrate achievements. We will learn from our past and work together for our environment and our future.

Where We’re Headed

To read and download our our most recent strategic plan, visit erca.org/strategic-plan