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,” says Deb Kozak, Chair of the Columbia River Treaty Local Governments’ Committee.
“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 U.S 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,” says Kozak.
“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 (www.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;
_expanding the focus of the Treaty to include ecosystems and other interests;
_flood risk management;
_Canadian input to Libby Dam operations;
_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.