The Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar was one of three built as part of the Columbia River Treaty. It has had a huge impact on the Columbia River valley all the way to Revelstoke. (Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Columbia River Treaty to be renegotiated in early 2018

News came in a tweet from the U.S. Department of State

Renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States will begin in early 2018, according to the U.S. Department of State.

On Thursday, Dec. 7 the Department of State tweeted:

“The United States and #Canada will begin negotiations to modernize the landmark Columbia River Treaty regime in early 2018. Certain provisions of the Treaty — a model of transboundary natural resource cooperation since 1964 — are set to expire in 2024. https://go.usa.gov/xnNr9.”

Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and minister responsible for the Columbia River Treaty, says the B.C. government supports the continuation of the treaty.

“British Columbia looks forward to engaging with Canada and the United States on the future of the Columbia River Treaty,” she said in a statement. “We support continuing the Treaty and seeking improvements using the flexibility within the existing Treaty framework. Consistent with the principles of the Treaty that has served both countries very well for over 50 years, our objective will be to maximize benefits and share those benefits equitably.”

The treaty was first ratified in 1964.

Canada agreed to provide flood control and to build three dams — Duncan, Hugh L. Keenleyside and Mica — in B.C. and allowed the U.S. to build a fourth dam, the Libby Dam, that flooded into Canada, in exchange for “an equal share of the incremental U.S. downstream power benefits.”

Canada’s half-share of the downstream power benefits is known as the Canadian Entitlement, and under the 1963 Canada-British Columbia Agreement, the benefits are owned by the Province of B.C.

The Canadian Entitlement is provided by the U.S. as energy and capacity, not money. Between 2000 and 2010, the average annual entitlement was 1320 megawatts.

Powerex, the wholly owned electricity marketing subsidiary of BC Hydro, then sells that power at market value to BC Hydro or utilities in Alberta or the U.S.

When the treaty was first ratified, B.C. sold the first 30 years of power to a consortium of utilities in the U.S. for $254 million and used the money to build the three Columbia River Treaty dams. Those agreements expired in phases between 1998 and 2003 and B.C. now receives the full Canadian Entitlement, which is estimated to be worth $120 million annually, depending on power market prices.

The treaty has no end date but either country can end it from September 2024 onwards if at least 10 years notice is given.

In November of 2011, B.C. initiated a Columbia River Treaty Review, which resulted in a recommendation being made to the B.C. government in December 2013. That, in turn, led to the B.C. Decision, which was to continue the treaty and “seek improvements within its existing framework.”

The decision lists 14 principles that will guide any changes to the treaty pursued by B.C.

The 11th principle states that “[s]almon migration into the Columbia River in Canada was eliminated by the Grand Coulee Dam in 1938 (26 years prior to Treaty ratification), and is currently not a Treaty issue.”

You can read all 14 principles at engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/6/2012/03/BC_Decision_on_Columbia_River_Treaty.pdf.

Also in December 2013, the U.S. Entity delivered its final recommendation to the U.S. Department of State and in the fall f 2016, the department completed its review of the final recommendations and “decided to proceed with negotiations to modern the Treaty.”

RELATED: Pay more for Columbia River, minister tells U.S.

We will have more on this story as we gather reaction.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke SAR crews help find woman’s body around Kaslo River

The woman was on a motorcycle when it plunged into the river on June 21

RCMP identify dangerous driver from near head-on collision by Golden

Police say the extremely dangerous and illegal maneuver put multiple lives at risk

Hitchhiker with metal pipe prompts RCMP to close of Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Police respond to report of man who pointed what was believed to be a rifle at passing driver

Local Food Initiative wants public feedback for possible Garden Tour

Survey suggests some people are concerned about the RCMP, after last year’s tour

MP Morrison pushes for accountability following federal fiscal update

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian says it is time to restart the economy

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Rare comet NEOWISE and aurora lights captured in Okanagan

The image was captured over Big Horn Lake near Kelowna with a Pixel 4XL android phone

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Summerland home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

‘We know people are going to come to Kelowna’: Mayor addresses COVID-19 cluster

The mayor said people need to continue following the advice of the medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry

City of Kelowna to hold funds for 2023 Memorial Cup bid

$135,000 of the city’s initial $225,000 commitment to the tournament will be held for a future bid

Oliver cherry farm allowed to continue operating following positive COVID-19 cases

Interior Health not concerned about health risk to individuals consuming products from farm

Vernon Search and Rescue aids injured Okanagan Rail Trail cyclist

Group’s Utility Terrain Vehicle proving to be a valuable asset on the popular trail

Most Read