Columbia River Treaty: Silent Spring

"Today, the legacy behind these dams is a virtual dead zone within a local climate gone awry."

The year 1964 : heart attacks, death, two years for the smoke to clear as 2,300 of us were forced from our homes and farms. Tens of thousands of mammals drowned or starved to death. 266,518 acres of our very best valley bottoms submerged, extensive old growth forest drowned as it stood.

That was half a century ago when the Columbia River Treaty dams were constructed to impound water in vast industrial reservoirs “on call” for the U.S.

Today, the legacy behind these dams is a virtual dead zone within a local climate gone awry. With the riparian area destroyed and the river’s ability to seasonally charge and release its nutrient load denied, gone are the insects, birds, bats, mammals, amphibians, vegetation, freshwater phytoplankton, aquatic larvae and crustaceans.

Chemical additives from Teck-Cominco boost aquatic “nutrients”; chromosome-modified sterile triploid trout stock the reservoirs preying on remnant, ever-declining native fish; pests and disease proliferate (no birds plus reservoirs’ artificial warming); no agriculture in a valley formerly the third most productive in B.C., no return of small industry that formerly sustained closely-connected human populations now gone – a dismembered river called upon to provide ever more water for US irrigation, industry, navigation, eco-system function, direct consumption, domestic use, hydropower, recreation and “flood control”. Unethical, immoral and ultimately ruinous to both countries.

There is a solution:  mid-pool reservoirs in Canada.

Janet Spicer

Nakusp