The U.S. State Department last week announced
that Jill Smail will be the new Columbia River Treaty negotiator for the
department, replacing Brian Doherty.
“I am delighted to announce the arrival of our
new Columbia River Treaty negotiator Jill Smail, replacing CRT negotiator Brian
Doherty,” said Cindy Kierscht, the state department’s Director, Office of
Canadian Affairs, in an e-mail last week to parties involved in the CRT.
Smail “comes to us from the State Department’s
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs where she previously served as the Senior Water
advisor. She has extensive experience in
negotiating transboundary water issues in the Middle East and has represented
the U.S. Government on water issues in various bilateral and multilateral fora.
We are delighted to have her to join our team in the Office of Canadian Affairs
to work on this important issue.
“We expect she will first conduct internal
consultations, but will soon be reaching out to all relevant stakeholders in
Washington, DC and in the region to hear your interests and concerns. We also hope to get Jill out to the region
to coincide with the Collaborative Modeling Working Group that we understand
will be held in early November.
“We look forward to working with you all
closely in the weeks ahead as we work to modernize the CRT treaty,” Kierscht
Smail joined the Office of Canadian Affairs as
the Columbia River Treaty Negotiator this month. From 2009-September 2017, she
served as the Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs for
Environment, Science, Technology, and Health, with a focus on Middle East water
negotiations and programs. She worked
with Middle East negotiating teams on water issues related to a final status
agreement and managed programs to facilitate greater cooperation among the
parties in watershed management, research, desalination, infrastructure
development, and agriculture.
Smail’s previous assignments at the U.S.
Department of State include serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in
Afghanistan and negotiating small arms and light weapons destruction projects
in post-conflict regions in Southeast Europe, Africa, and Asia. She joined the U.S. Department of State in
Smail is a native of Groesbeck, Texas. She received a Bachelor of Science in
Sociology and a Master of Science in Government and Public Service from Texas
A&M University. She also earned a
Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense
The CRT, a trans-boundary water management
agreement, was signed in 1961 and ratified in 1964.
The treaty has no specified expiration date.
Either Canada or the United States can unilaterally terminate the Columbia
River Treaty any time after Sept. 16, 2024, provided written notice is filed at
least 10 years in advance.
This suggests a “notice date” of Sept 16,
2014, but notice could have been done earlier and can be done later.
Both British Columbia and the United States
are considering options to determine whether or not to give notice. Regardless,
Assured Annual Flood Control expires automatically in 2024 and converts in 2024
to a Called Upon operation of Canadian storage space as may be needed by the
United States for flood risk management
The treaty optimizes flood management and
power generation, requiring coordinated operations of reservoirs and water
flows for the Columbia River and Kootenay River on both sides of the border.
As a direct result of the treaty, four storage
dams were built: Mica, Arrow and Duncan dams in British Columbia, Canada; and
Libby Dam in Montana. The Columbia’s headwaters are in British Columbia. The
river flows south into Washington, then west along the Oregon-Washington border
to the Pacific. Tributaries from British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Nevada,
Oregon, Washington and Wyoming feed the Columbia-Snake river system.
These four projects more than doubled the
storage capacity of the Columbia River system, increased control of the river
flow, thereby decreasing the risk of major flooding events downstream, and
provided opportunities for releasing water at times needed for power generation
and other downstream benefits such as fisheries and water supply.
For more information on the Columbia River
Treaty go to the Columbia River Treaty 2014/2024 website https://www.crt2014-2024review.gov/Default.aspx managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power
To follow this process since 2013, see these
-- CBB, June 24, 2016, “Cantwell, Canadian
Ambassador Meet To Discuss Columbia River Treaty Ahead Of North American
-- CBB, March 18, 2016, “Cantwell Secures
Commitment From Canadian Prime Minister To Move Forward With Columbia River
-- CBB, March 11, 2016, “Cantwell Urges
Canadian Prime Minister To Start Talks On Columbia River Treaty; Murray Quizzes
-- CBB, Feb. 12, 2016, “Cross-Border Coalition
Urges Collaboration In Modernizing U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty” http://www.cbbulletin.com/436053.aspx
-- CBB, June 12, 2015, “State Department:
Columbia River Treaty Negotiating Position To Include ‘Ecosystem-Based
-- CBB, April 17, 2015, “NW Congressional
Delegation Urges Obama To Initiate Negotiations On Columbia River Treaty,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/433725.aspx
-- CBB, Sept. 19, 2014, “Columbia River Treaty
Reaches Age 50 This Week; British Columbia, U.S. Considering Future Options” http://www.cbbulletin.com/432128.aspx
-- CBB, March 21, 2014, “British Columbia
Announces Decision To Continue Columbia River Treaty While Seeking
-- CBB, Feb. 28, 2014 “15 Basin Tribes,
Canadian First Nations Issue Report On Restoring Upper Columbia Salmon
-- CBB, Dec. 20, 2013, “Final Recommendations
For Revising Columbia River Treaty With Canada Sent To State Department,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/429315.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,”
-- 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,