Everything you wanted to know about the Columbia River Treaty and were afraid to ask

The Mica Dam, completed in 1973, was the third Columbia River Treaty dam built in Canada and created the Kinbasket Reservoir. Photo courtesy of BC Hydro.

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is hosting an information session about the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) in Revelstoke on Monday, November 7.

“The information session  will help people who live in the Canadian portion of the Columbia Basin better understand what the CRT is, how it works and what considerations exist for the future,” Neil Muth, CBT President and CEO, said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The treaty is an international agreement between Canada and the United States to coordinate flood control and optimize hydroelectric power generation on both sides of the border. Under the 1964 treaty, three dams were constructed in Canada, including Mica, Duncan and Hugh Keenleyside.  A fourth dam, Libby, was constructed in Montana. Its reservoir, the Koocanusa, extends 67 kilometres into Canada.

The treaty has no official expiry date, but has a minimum length of 60 years, which is met in September 2024. Either country can terminate many of the provisions of the agreement effective any time after September 2024, provided written notice is filed at least 10 years in advance (2014). While no decision has been made by either Canada or the United States on the future of the current treaty, given the importance of the issues, and the approaching date of 2014, both countries are now conducting studies and exploring future options for the treaty.

“Our primary role with respect to the CRT is to act as an information resource for Basin residents,” Muth said, adding that CBT — which was established by the province to address social and economic problems created in this region in the wake of the treaty — does not make decisions with respect to the CRT. “Consultation on the CRT is a provincial responsibility.”

Working with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the City of Revelstoke, CBT is bringing experts on the treaty and international water management from across Canada to Revelstoke.

“Having people with this much knowledge about the current treaty come to our community is an excellent opportunity for all of us to learn more,” Mayor David Raven said in the statement.

For her part, CSRD Regional Director Loni Parker called this event “a chance to talk with experts and our neighbours about something that has influenced the geography and social fabric of this region for decades.”

CBT is hosting similar sessions in other communities as well as online information sessions. It has also prepared documents, videos and other resources to help residents learn more.  They are located on the web at:

  1. This short video presents key facts on the treaty’s history: http://www.cbt.org/newsroom/?view&vars=1&content=Multimedia&WebDocID=2515
  2. Fact sheet that outlines relationship between CBT and the treaty, and CBT’s role: http://www.cbt.org/crt/assets/pdfs/CRT_fact_sheet.pdf
  3. Brochure that provides an overview of the treaty: http://www.cbt.org/crt/assets/pdfs/CRTbrochure.pdf

You can also learn more about the treaty at www.cbt.org/crt. To learn more about the CBT’s programs and initiatives, visit www.cbt.org or call 1-800-505-8998.

This event is to be held on:

Monday, November 7, at the Revelstoke Community Centre
600 Campbell Avenue
Open House                   2 to 7 pm
Free Dinner                   6 to 7 pm
Presentation                   7 to 9 pm