The treaty covers the three dams that were placed on the Columbia River in B.C. for flood control down river in Washington and Oregon. (File photo)

U.S. and Canadian negotiators have ‘frank’ talks on Columbia River Treaty

The treaty covers the three dams that were placed on the Columbia River

A British Columbia cabinet minister monitoring negotiations with the United States over the future of the expiring Columbia River Treaty says talks have been “frank” around operations and benefits.

The treaty covers the three dams that were placed on the Columbia River in B.C. for flood control down river in Washington and Oregon. In return for the dams, Canada received half of the electricity generated from the project.

READ MORE: BC Treaty Commission visits Terrace to open talks about treaty

When treaty negotiations began last year, the Americans said the electricity entitlement for Canada is too large and they want to add environmental measures to the agreement, allowing them to increase water flow to protect salmon habitat.

Katrine Conroy, the B.C. cabinet minister responsible for the treaty, says everything is on the table, including reducing Canada’s electricity entitlement and cutting downstream benefits to the United States.

She says the talks have now advanced on the topics of flood-risk management and hydropower co-ordination.

Conroy says there has been some frank conversations about operations and benefits that are on both sides of the border.

“I know from our perspective, the operations on this side are incredibly important, especially the lake levels in both east and west Kootenay. It’s always an issue for people on this side of the basin,” she says.

The fifth round of negotiations took place in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and Thursday, for the treaty that was ratified in 1964.

Conroy says the current requests from the United States for increased water flow means fluctuating lake levels in British Columbia and has also prompted complaints from Okanagan apple growers that their American counterparts are being favoured.

Extreme weather in recent years has also made flood-risk mitigation top of mind, she says.

“Because of climate change and the fluctuating levels of our rivers in the last few years and some of the floods that have come about, we do need the flood control and we do need that flood control downstream.”

The earliest the treaty can be concluded is 2024, however termination requires notice of ten years.

The next round of negotiations will take place in Victoria on April 10 and 11.

No one from the U.S. State Department was available for comment but it says in a statement that American negotiators continue to take into account the views of people who live and work in the Columbia River basin.

“Building on information shared during previous rounds, the U.S. and Canadian negotiators discussed U.S. priorities, including continued careful flood risk management, maintaining a reliable and economical power supply, and ecosystem benefit improvement,” the statement says.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Facts missing on impact of Columbia River Treaty

Letter to the Editor from Dave Thompson of Oasis

Fix the potholes

Letter to the Editor from Bob Johnson of Nelson

Locked up garbage not always an effective solution

Letter to the Editor from Karl Fricke of Fruitvale

25 years of Nite Trek for West Kootenay Scouts, Guides

Annual adventure hike is hosted by the 107th Baden Powell Guild

Rossland mulls electric bike program

City staff, councillors could buy a bike interest-free with help from the city

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

B.C. firefighters rescue frozen dog from ice

The fire crew found a dog stuck in the at Lake Paul on May 20

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

Survey finds 15% of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Most Read