ERCA Looking For Climate Change Specialist

A new nearly $9.3-million budget for the Essex Region Conservation Authority looks to map out a plan to deal with climate change locally.

The 2018 budget was approved in mid-February and includes $150,000 to hire and support a climate change specialist to head up a regional adaptation strategy.

ERCA General Manager Richard Wyma says that strategy will overlap with floodline mapping being done to respond to more intense and more frequent rain.

Wyma says it's taken longer than expected to hire a climate change specialist, but hopes to have the position filled sooner rather than later.

He stresses climate change is a critical issue that needs a cohesive response.

"Rather than work individually, and some municipalities are working further than others, we thought it would make sense maybe if we can help with municipalities coordinate a regional effort here to take a look at what are the various risks and vulnerabilities, what are the priorities that we as a region need to address?" says Wyma.

Wyma says it's time for a regional plan that will map out specific actions to deal with the coming effects of climate change.

"There's a lot we don't know in our region with respect to climate change," says Wyma. "We know that there's a lot of great knowledge that the municipalities have and that our staff, as well, have but, we need to be able to put it together."

Other key initiatives in the conservation authority's budget include creating 100-acres of new habitat and continuing to tackle algal-bloom tied phosphorus loading in Lake Erie.

The 2018 ERCA budget now sees $16 per household after a $0.09 per household increase as the municipal funded portion grows to $3.15-million.