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

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Your weekly Mountain Minute

Golden’s 60-second news recap

An Everest fundraiser

Man set to climb elevation of Mt. Everest in one day to raise school lunch funds

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

Golden Fire Rescue training grounds get a facelift

Residents may have noticed some changes at the fire hall in the… Continue reading

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read