photo of a wetland

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, many areas of Ontario were realizing that they had serious land use problems. Poor land use practices and lack of understanding of the inter-relationships among our natural resources were cited as causes. Water quality and quantity were major concerns. Fluctuations in water supply and poor water quality were evident in urban and rural areas of the Province.

Snowmelt and spring rains caused flooding problems in some communities, resulting in property damage and the loss of lives, especially within the flood plains of creeks and rivers. Other water problems resulted in periods of summer drought.

Inappropriate farming practices and lumbering caused changes in water levels and increased soil erosion in some areas. This affected not only the local fish and wildlife population, but all watershed residents.

In response to these problems, and the need to plan for post-war construction, a group of individuals representing government, universities and the private sector came together in 1941 at what has become known as the Guelph Conference. This group recommended, to the government, a course of action to meet the conservation and resources management needs of the province.

As a result of the Conference, the Province of Ontario, in cooperation with the federal government, initiated a comprehensive survey of the conservation problems in the Ganaraska watershed. The recommendations of this report, completed in 1943, led directly to the passage of the Conservation Authorities Act of Ontario, in the spring of 1946. The passage of the Act signalled a new approach to conservation and resource management, by embodying three basic principles:

  • the watershed as a management unit
  • local initiative and involvement
  • municipal-provincial partnership.

There are currently 36 Cservation Authorities operating in Ontario, they are community based environmental and protection advisory agencies that provide programs and services on a watershed basis and work with all levels of government, landowners and many other organizations. As per the Conservation Authorities Act, the core mandate of a Conservation Authority is to undertake watershed-based programs to protect people and property from flooding and other natural hazards, and to conserve natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits.

The Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (Cataraqui Conservation) was formed, at the request of our member municipalities, in December 1964 by order-in-council.

Our jurisdiction is over 3,800 sq km of land from the Town of Greater Napanee in the west to the City of Brockville in the east, encompassing 11 watersheds. Municipalities represented include the Cities of Kingston and Brockville, the Towns of Gananoque and Greater Napanee, and the Townships of Rideau Lakes, Leeds & the Thousand Islands, Athens, Loyalist, South Frontenac, Front of Yonge, and Elizabethtown-Kitley. When acting as the Cataraqui Source Protection Authority, Frontenac Islands Township is included in the membership.

Cataraqui Conservation is managed by a board members appointed by the municipalities within our jurisdiction. It is the board members responsibility to represent the views of the citizens within their respective municipalities. In this way, local input into the activities, operations and projects of the Authority is provided. Cataraqui Conservation has 17 members appointed by the councils of the 11 municipalities that lie either wholly or partly within the Cataraqui watershed.

Cataraqui Conservation’s mandated role is to provide programs and services with partner municipalities to further the conservation, restoration, development, and management of natural resources in the Cataraqui Region watershed. Along with these programs and services we strive to promote sustainable living in our communities and work with our partners to ensure development actions upstream do not have detrimental impacts downstream.

Cataraqui Conservation also provides opportunities for nature appreciation and recreation for residents at our eight Conservation Areas and the Cataraqui Trail. Staff work towards the goal of supporting healthy local watersheds, protecting public health, reducing the impact of natural hazards, and ensuring resilient communities.

watersheds carry water from the land after rain falls and snow melts through the soil, groundwater, creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. Small watersheds become part of larger ones, as streams feed into rivers, and rivers flow into oceans. We all live in a watershed.