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Feds propose making ecosystem key purpose of new Columbia River Treaty with Canada

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JONATHAN HOUSE - The Bonneville Dam is part of a massive system of dams that are central to the Columbia River Treaty with Canada.The Columbia River Treaty between the U.S. and Canada needs to be updated to reflect ecosystem values as a primary function, parallel to flood control and hydroelectric power production, according to a new draft proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration.

The two federal agencies are putting out the draft proposal to seek public comments. The 1964 treaty, which has helped avert Columbia River flooding for nearly five decades, comes up for renewal next year.

Bolstering environmental provisions in the treaty would help assure better river flows in dry years, and in the spring and summer, to protect endangered fish, the agencies say. They also propose renegotiating the so-called Canadian Entitlement, which gives Canada rights to free hydro power from U.S. dams on the Columbia.

Officials on this side of the border argue that the deal gives too much financial benefit to Canada, an estimated $250 million to $300 million worth of hydropower.

However, the two agencies note there is no U.S. consensus yet on some aspects of the treaty, particularly on the issue of water rights. Columbia Basin tribes also are pushing to modify flood management practices and reduce hydro production to benefit fish and wildlife.

To see details on the treaty, or sign up for two upcoming informational webinars: www.crt2014-2024review.gov. The webinars are scheduled on July 16, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and July 23, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Comments on the treaty draft may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mailed to CRT Review (DKE), P.O. Box 14428, Portland, OR 97293. There’s also a comment form at www.crt2014-2024review.gov.