Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core
Review Bill Bennett announced last week that the Canadian government has
decided that it wants continue the long-running Columbia River Treaty with the
United States while seeking “improvements” within pact’s existing framework.
decision includes 14 principles that will guide British Columbia in any
discussions on the future of the treaty between Canada and the United States.
of the key principles -- and the primary goal of the treaty from the Canadian
province's perspective -- is to create and equitably share benefits from
trans-boundary co-ordination with the United States, recognizing that British
Columbia is impacted by treaty operations.
believe continuing the Columbia River Treaty while exploring how improvements
could benefit both countries is the best strategy moving forward for B.C.,
Canada and the United States,” Bennett said. “The consultations that have
included various levels of government, stakeholder groups, First Nations and
the public have helped ensure the future of the treaty will be shaped by the
people it impacts."
governments have successfully collaborated with the province to ensure the
opinions and voices of basin residents are heard in decisions related to the
future of the Columbia River Treaty in an extensive review process over the
last two years,” according to Debra Kozak, chair of British Columbia’s Columbia
River Treaty Local Governments' Committee. “We congratulate the province on
reaching a decision regarding the future of the CRT and look forward to
reviewing the decision as this is an essential next step in seeking
improvements to the treaty."
Columbia River Treaty signed in 1961 with implementation beginning in 1964,
aimed primarily to reduce flood risk posed by the river and its tributaries and
support hydropower generation. The Columbia River’s headwaters are high in the
Canadian Rockies. It then flows down through southern British Columbia and the
state of Washington before turning west along the Oregon-Washington border to
the Pacific Ocean.
storage reservoirs on the Columbia River system remain the most obvious result
of the Treaty,” according to the “Columbia River Treaty 2014/2024 Review” web
page sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power
Administration. “Together, the three dams built in Canada (Duncan, Mica and
Keenleyside -- also known as Arrow in the U.S.) doubled the amount of water
that could be stored, adding 15.5 million acre-feet of capacity.
Dam in Montana created another large storage reservoir, Lake Koocanusa. The
Treaty called for the U.S. to pre-pay Canada, a total of $64 million, as each
Canadian Treaty dam was put into operation. This payment covered implementation
of annual flood control plans for the first 60 years of the Treaty, through
the treaty has no specified end date, it contains provisions that will change
its implementation in 2024. Either Canada or the United States may unilaterally
terminate most provisions of the treaty in 2024, with a minimum of 10 years’
advance notice, hence the focus on 2014 and 2024.
Columbia's final decision concludes that both countries must recognize that for
every cost associated with the treaty, there are important benefits that should
be shared by both parties. Cross-border co-ordination supports the flood
control and power generation needs of the United States, as well as the
effective management of their environmental requirements, agriculture water
supply and river navigation.
decision also recognizes that salmon migration further up the Columbia River
was blocked with the construction of central Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam, 26
years prior to treaty ratification and concludes that the restoration of fish
passage and habitat should be the responsibility of each country, according to
a press release issued by B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines.
principles in the decision include considerations around flood control,
hydropower generation, ecosystems and climate change, while maintaining the
flexibility to adapt to evolving economic, social and environmental
circumstances in each country, the press release says. The B.C. government has
engaged in discussions with federal entities on how both governments will work
together in anticipation of any future potential negotiations with the United
Columbia River Treaty Review conducted by the Canadians included economic,
environmental, social, hydrological and legal analyses as well as extensive
public and First Nations consultation leading to a decision on whether to
continue, amend or terminate the Columbia River Treaty with the United States.
U.S. Entity (BPA and the Corps) made its final recommendations to the U.S.
federal government in December, which are currently being reviewed by the U.S.
State Department. The United States will co-ordinate a federal interagency
review under the general direction of the National Security Council on behalf
of the president of the United States.
Columbia River Treaty is known throughout the world as one of the most
successful models of a trans-boundary water management, the Ministry of Energy
and Mines press release says. This water management agreement has spurred
ongoing discussions around the need for cross-border collaboration to address
flooding concerns and growing demands for energy.
U.S. Entity is amidst a similar process prior to potential negotiations.
regional recommendation was developed by the U.S. Entity in collaboration and
consultation with the region’s sovereign states, federally recognized tribes,
and a variety of stakeholders through an extensive, multi-year process known as
the Columbia River Treaty Review (Treaty Review),” according to a Dec. 13 cover
letter for the U.S. Entity’s regional recommendations.
U.S. Entity submits that the Pacific Northwest region broadly supports
modernization of the Treaty to bring about better and more balanced benefits,
and believes this would be in the best interest of the region and the United
States,” according to the letter signed by Elliot E. Mainzer, U.S. Entity
chair. Mainzer was at the time acting BPA administrator. He had since been selected
to serve as head of the power marketing agency.
stated goal of the regional recommendation is for both countries to develop a
modernized Treaty framework that reflects the actual value of coordinated power
operations with Canada, maintains an acceptable level of flood risk and
supports a resilient and healthy ecosystem-based function throughout the
Columbia River Basin,” the Dec. 13 letter says. “It is important to achieve a
modernized framework for the Treaty that balances power production, flood risk
management, and ecosystem-based function as the primary purposes addressed in
the Treaty, while also meeting other congressionally authorized purposes of the
U.S. projects, such as irrigation and navigation.”
view B.C.'s final decision visit: http://blog.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty/files/2012/03/BC_Decision_on_Columbia_River_Treaty.pdf
U.S. Entity’s web page can be found at: http://www.crt2014-2024review.gov/
perspective is detailed in “U.S. Benefits from the Columbia River Treaty –
Past, Present and Future: A Province of British Columbia Perspective” http://blog.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty/files/2012/07/US-Benefits-from-CRT-June-25-132.pdf
CBB, Feb. 28, 2014 “15 Basin Tribes, Canadian First Nations Issue Report On
Restoring Upper Columbia Salmon Passage” http://www.cbbulletin.com/429847.aspx
CBB, Nov. 27, 2013, “Columbia River Treaty Prompts Discussion Of Restoring
Salmon Passage To Canadian Headwaters” http://www.cbbulletin.com/429144.aspx
CBB, Nov. 1, 2013, “Columbia River Treaty Negotiations Will Impact Libby Dam
Operations, Reservoir Drafting/Refill” http://www.cbbulletin.com/428897.aspx
CBB, Oct. 18, 2013, “B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations,
Wants Full Accounting Of U.S. Benefits” http://www.cbbulletin.com/428719.aspx
CBB, Sept. 27, 2013, “U.S. Releases Draft Recommendations For ‘Modernizing’
Columbia River Treaty” http://www.cbbulletin.com/428444.aspx
CBB, Aug. 16, 2013, “Environmentalists Say Columbia River Treaty Needs To
Expand To Include ‘Ecosystem-Based Functions”’ http://www.cbbulletin.com/427918.aspx
CBB, Aug. 9, 2013, “Utilities Group Expresses Concern With Columbia River
Treaty Draft Recommendations, Process, Scope” http://www.cbbulletin.com/427854.aspx