The Columbia River Treaty -- Past, Present, and Future

The Columbia River Treaty, implemented by the United States and Canada in 1964, focused on flood control and hydropower generation benefits in both countries.  The Treaty required the construction of three Canadian dams including Mica Dam, Keenleyside Dam, and Duncan Dam in Canada; and allowed the United States to construct Libby Dam in the United States. Since these dams were constructed between 1967 and 1973, Canada and the United States have jointly managed and regulated the Columbia River as it flows into the United States. The operation of Treaty storage has provided substantial flood risk management, power generation, and other benefits to both nations.

The U.S. Entity (Administrator of Bonneville Power Administration and Northwestern Division Engineer of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) conducted a multi-year Treaty Review involving regional states, tribes, and stakeholders to understand what Treaty operation effects might look like after 2024, when certain Treaty flood control requirements change.    On December 13, 2013, the U.S. Entity delivered its Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty after 2024, to the U.S. Department of State; calling for a modernization of the Treaty. The U.S. Department of State has reviewed the Recommendation and recently indicated its decision to include flood risk management, hydropower, and ecosystem-based function in its draft U.S. negotiating position.

This symposium will include a brief overview of the Treaty, the Treaty Review activities that led to the Regional Recommendation, and the Recommendation itself.  A panel of Treaty Review participants will discuss the Treaty Review process and how they would like to see the process move forward from their constituents’ perspectives.  AFS members and conference participants will gain insights to the challenges of balancing of a multiple-use operation of a large system of reservoirs.

Jim Fodrea and Terry Buchholz
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