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Canada, U.S. wrap up 18th round of Columbia River Treaty modernization talks

The latest discussions were held in Seattle as both delegations continue to negotiate updated treaty terms
Reservoir behind Mica Dam, one of dams constructed under terms of the Columbia River Treaty. (Bonneville Power Ad)

The latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks between Canada and the United States concluded last week as both sides continued efforts to modernize the decades-old agreement.

Both delegations met in Seattle for the 18th round of negotiations on Aug. 10 and 11, as Canadian, American and Indigenous representatives focused on various aspects of a U.S. proposal delivered a few weeks ago, according to an update from the B.C. government.

The Canadian negotiating team, which includes delegates from B.C., and the Ktunaxa, Secwepemc and Syilx Okanagan Nations, continue to advocate for increased domestic flexibility in treaty dam operations to enhance Indigenous cultural values, ecosystems and socioeconomic interests, updated flood control provisions and hydroelectric benefits.

Further items of interest also included finding common ground on bilateral treaty ecosystem provisions and efforts to reintroduce salmon into the upper Columbia River.

Both delegations continue to examine the challenges and opportunities in integrating their respective and mutual water management objectives.

In the coming weeks, the Canadian delegation is expected to provide their response to the latest American proposal. The next round of negotiations have yet to be announced.

Originally ratified in 1964, the Columbia River Treaty is a water-sharing agreement between Canada and the U.S. that provide for downstream flood control management and power generation on the Columbia River.

The treaty led to the construction of three dams in British Columbia and one in Montana.

However, it has been historically criticized for a lack of consultation with Indigenous communities, as the reservoirs flooded out cultural and heritage sites, and impacted ecosystems, forests, agriculture and tourism values.
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Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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