Conservation Authorities

 Learn how conservation authorities (CAs) protect Ontario’s watersheds.

Conservation Authorities

In Ontario, conservation authorities (CAs) are public sector organizations that develop and deliver resource management programs that safeguard our watersheds.

They are governed by the Conservation Authorities Act, which is administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

See: Conservation Authorities Act

Roles and responsibilities

Conservation authorities carry out programs that serve provincial and municipal interests, including:

  • natural hazard management
  • flood and erosion control
  • ice management
  • flood forecasting and warning
  • drought/low water program
  • clean water protection (under the Clean Water Act)

They also:

  • provide advice to municipalities on natural hazard management
  • regulate development and other activities in areas affected by water-based natural hazards (e.g., floodplains, shorelines, wetlands) through a permit process

To apply for a permit, contact your local conservation authority.

To appeal a permit, contact the Ontario Mining and Lands Commissioner.

Conservation authorities may also deliver programs that address local priorities including:

  • stewardship/conservation (e.g. tree planting, habitat restoration)
  • watershed studies, research and education programs
  • recreation programs (e.g. operating conservation areas)
  • other services to municipalities (e.g. storm water management advice,  tree planting, assessment of environmental impacts, septic system reviews)

Learn more: appeal a permit


Each conservation authority is made up of a number of municipalities working together within a watershed. Each CA is overseen by a board of directors that consists of municipal representatives.

Conservation Authorities get help from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which provides them with:

  • policy direction
  • technical advice
  • funding for natural hazard management and studies/repairs on existing CA-owned flood and erosion control infrastructure(e.g., dams, dykes, retaining walls)
Updated: August 27, 2014