Local governments submit their Columbia River Treaty recommendations to senior government

Local governments have submitted their recommendations regarding the future of the Columbia River Treaty (Treaty) to the provincial and federal governments.

Ensuring a voice for Basin residents in future Treaty discussions, reducing impacts from Treaty-related dams, enhancing ecosystem function, and sharing equitably in any benefits flowing from the 1964 Treaty are among the key recommendations.

“Basin residents were clear about their issues and concerns related to the future of the Columbia River Treaty and we’ve worked together to find practical solutions that address a range of Treaty-related issues from salmon restoration, to increasing input from Basin residents in dam operations,” Deb Kozak, chairwoman of the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee, aid in a statement released on Wednesday, December 11.

“Our recommendations are with government now and we expect that they will be incorporated into any decisions about the future of the Treaty.”

Both BC and the US are in the process of developing recommendations on the future of the Treaty because 2014 is the earliest opportunity that either country can give notice to terminate substantial portions of the Treaty, which would take effect in 10 years.

“Residents want local government and First Nations’ input into any future discussions about the Treaty,” Kozak said. “And they want the Provincial Treaty Review Team to continue assessing alternative scenarios for Treaty dams and reservoirs that would improve ecosystem function and other values. Residents in BC especially want to understand what it would mean for this region if the Columbia River was managed to meet the U.S. request for increased Columbia River flows in spring and summer.”

More than 235 people attended recent workshops hosted by the Provincial Treaty Review Team and the CRT Local Governments’ Committee in November, and more than 100 people provided written input on the recommendations drafted by the Committee. Residents generally support the Committee’s 12 recommendations directly related to the Treaty, and its five recommendations to address domestic Treaty-related issues. They also suggested refinements to the draft recommendations which the Committee has reviewed to prepare their current recommendations.

The Committee’s recommendations are available from the Committee’s webpage (http://akblg.ca/content/columbia-river-treaty). They address the following international Treaty issues:

  • local government status in international discussions;
  • continued engagement with Basin residents;
  • assessing benefits and impacts;
  • reducing negative impacts to the Basin;
  • equitable benefit-sharing;
  • expanding the focus of the Treaty to include ecosystems and other interests;
  • flood risk management;
  • Canadian input to Libby Dam operations;
  • power generation;
  • continuing Treaty rights to water use in BC;
  • integrating climate change; and
  • pursuing salmon restoration.

Recommendations regarding regional or so-called domestic issues address:

  • mitigation and/or compensation for negative impacts in the BC portion of the Basin;
  • community economic development;
  • meaningful ongoing engagement of Basin residents;
  • restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife in the East Kootenay-Koocanusa;
  • a water management process for the Kootenay River;
  • full implementation of the Columbia River and Duncan Dam Water Use Plans; and
  • the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

A summary of the feedback received on the Committee’s draft recommendations and an updated Summary of Dam and Reservoir Issues will be posted on the Committee’s webpage, located at http://akblg.ca/content/columbia-river-treaty, in early January.