United States continues negotiations over the Columbia River Treaty

On January 10, the United States and Canada entered into round 12 negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty. This is a bilateral 1960s agreement on flood control, hydropower, and other aspects of large-scale water resource management. The Columbia River basin that crosses the border.

The flood control provisions of the Agreement will expire in 2024, 60 years after the Convention ratified it in 1964. The first negotiations on the new agreement began in May 2018 under President Trump of the United States and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

The key to the negotiations is the cross-border water flow from one US dam (Liby Dam) and three Canadian dams (Duncan, Mica, Keenlyside (or Arrow) Dam).

Under the terms of the original treaty, Canada provided a 15.5 million acre-foot reservoir for the flow of the Columbia River at these dams. In exchange, the United States paid Canada $ 64.4 million for flood control by 2024, and half of the downstream hydropower produced in the United States as a result of the water released at Canadian dams.

The fifty-five division is controversial for the United States. 2013 recommendation Regarding the future of the treaty by the Bonneville Electricity Authority after 2024, some US organizations responsible for implementing the treaty said that “there was an imbalance in the fair sharing of downstream electricity benefits arising from the treaty.”

According to the U.S. Department of State Web pageOne of the main focus of the discussion is “improvement of ecosystems in a modernized treaty system”, along with flood risk management and hydropower.

The BPA’s 2013 recommendation states that the original wording of the Convention “does not specify ecosystem considerations.”

This document should further form the basis for such considerations to form the basis of the third main purpose of the modernized treaty, and the environmental welfare of the Columbia River basin is “the common interests and costs of the United States and Canada.” It states that it should be.

British Columbia, which has most of the rights and obligations associated with the Canadian treaty, emphasizes similar concerns.

“A key area of ‚Äč‚Äčinterest is flood risk management, hydropower and ecosystems. Canada has also raised the issue of strengthening coordination and flexibility in Canada’s operations,” said the Columbia River. Katrin Conroy, head of the treaty, said in November 2021. statement Before negotiations on December 9th.

In 2012 review Regarding the impact of the treaty, the Canadian Ministry of Energy and Natural Gas said that the construction of Canada’s treaty dams and reservoirs in the 1960s and 1970s “removed the entire ecosystem.”

The original treaty was stimulated by the devastating 1948 Vanport flood, which wiped out communities in the Portland region of Oregon from the map.

Jill Smile, US Chief Negotiator on the State Department Treaty, said: remarks In September 2018 at the 2nd Columbia River Treaty City Hall.

Both sides’ negotiations have been communicated by local tribes and indigenous peoples. In the United States, representatives of the Kutenai tribe in Idaho, the Allied Tribe of the Umatilindian Reservation, and the Allied Tribe of the Colville Reservation are part of the State Department’s negotiation team. On the Canadian side, indigenous tribes of the Columbia River basin are participating.

The Columbia River Treaty Review“The construction of the treaty’s dams and reservoirs has caused a lot of difficulty for the directly affected communities and indigenous peoples,” said British Columbia’s decision to continue the treaty.

British Columbia and the US State Department were unable to comment by the press time.

Nathan Worcester


Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter for The Epoch Times.