Conference seeks collaboration on Columbia River

This fall's conference is intended to bring together a number of groups for discussion on issues surrounding the Columbia River Treaty.

  • Apr. 12, 2014 1:00 p.m.

For many of us the Columbia River is just that stretch of water that flows past Trail, but it is actually the fourth largest river in North America, at approximately 2,000 kilometres long.

And while we tend to think of it as our river, perhaps because it begins in B.C., the drainage basin of the Columbia also encompasses seven U.S. states and covers about 420,000 square kms in total, roughly the size of France.

So, while it may seem like a B.C. river, it is very much a part of a significant portion of the Pacific Northwest as well.

This fall, the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC), will be holding a joint, cross-border conference to discuss strategies on how to collaborate on management of the whole Columbia River system.

“It’s a timely discussion because both countries have had the opportunity to table their thoughts on renewing the Columbia River Treaty,” said Garry Merkel, former chair of the CBT and co-chair of the October conference.

“Historically, the only thing coordinated was the flow of the river for flood control and power management. Things are different now and people have questions about the ecology, the fisheries. How do we meet all the needs of the river as a system?”

Merkel said that this will be the fourth in a series of joint meetings coordinated by the two groups, the CBT representing the citizens of the Canadian portion of the Columbia Basin and the NWPCC, a somewhat similar organization but representing more broad, state government interests from the seven U.S. states in the basin.

“People who live in the basin want to become more involved in how it is managed,” said Merkel.

“What does our future look like?

“We need to look at the case studies that have been conducted and try to see our way forward. It’s something we’ve been working towards between the two organizations.”

The conference is intended to bring together experts and interested stakeholders representing state, provincial, federal, tribal, and First Nations governments; power utilities, environmental groups, and citizen groups from both sides of the border to share information and build understanding on ecosystem management, international water governance, climate change, and energy, as well as provide updates and an opportunity for discussion on trans-boundary issues such as the Columbia River Treaty review process and efforts to restore and conserve salmon in the upper Columbia.

“We ask a lot from this river: hydropower, irrigation, inland navigation, flood control, recreation and, at the same time, environmental conditions that support fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species,” Larry Cassidy, former chair of NWPCC and conference co-chair, said in a media release. “With the Northwest population growing, with the United States and Canada rethinking the future of the Columbia River Treaty, and with demands on the river increasing for fish benefits, this is a good time to look back at what the river has done for us and then think of what we want the river to do in the future.”

The conference will be held Oct. 21 to the 23 at the Hilton Double Tree in Spokane, Washington. More information on the conference and accommodations can be found at

Just Posted

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

High hazard in downtown Trail

Roofing work began early Monday morning at the Trail Memorial Centre

Second hospital road part of plan, says Trail mayor

Martin was in Whistler last week for the UBCM; city delegation met with health ministry

Syringa Creek fire ‘being held’

The fire has burned 3193 hectares; Deer Creek fire is also “being held” at 3849 hectares

List of civic election candidates in Trail area

The nomination period closed Friday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m.

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

Court of appeal grants injunction on Taseko’s exploratory drilling in B.C. Interior

The decision provides temporary protection and relief, said Chief Joe Alphonse

Volunteer crew ready to build ramps for B.C. amputee

Jean Moulton will soon have an easier time getting in and out of her home.

Most Read