The Columbia River flows through Revelstoke, B.C. On April 25 the province announced the renegotiation of the over 50 year old Columbia River Treaty (CRT) is slated to get underway this spring or summer. The CRT dictates the hydro-electric power generation of some 14 dams along the Columbia River. The province also announced a number of community meetings will be held across the basin in June. More details on those meetings are expected to be announced in May. (Jake Sherman/Revelstoke Review)

Renegotiation of Columbia River Treaty expected to begin this spring or summer

The province announced a number of community meetings on the subject will be held in June across the basin

The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) is expected to get underway this “spring or summer,” the province announced on April 25.

The same day B.C. announced a series of public forums on the CRT will be held in basin communities this June.

The public forums will provide updates on the status of the renegotiation of the CRT, a discussion of the input received from those communities during a 2012/13 public consultation, and a summary of work the province and government of Canada have been doing to prepare for the negotiations.

“These meetings will relaunch the Province’s engagement with the public on the CRT,” reads a media release. “Indigenous Nations and Basin communities were not consulted with when the Treaty was first formed. It is a top priority for the Province to ensure they are engaged throughout this negotiation process.”

The meetings will take place in Revelstoke, Jaffray, Creston, Castlegar, Nelson, Valemount, Golden and Nakusp.

More details on the meetings and the status of the negotiations are expected to be announced in early May.

The U.S. State Department had previously announced the start of the negotiations would get underway early this year.

RELATED: Columbia River Treaty to be renegotiated in early 2018

The CRT was signed in 1961, ratified in 1964, and is set to expire in 2024. It controls the hydro electric operations of the 14 dams along the river and the storage reservoir levels that control power flow through turbines downstream.

The reservoirs behind Hugh Keenleyside in Castlegar, Duncan and Mica Dams store 15.5 million acres of water. During drought years Canada releases water to keep the U.S. turbines turning.

The creation of those reservoirs, dictated by the CRT, increased downstream power generation by about 1,000 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power a city about the size of Seattle.

As part of the treaty, in return for its role in increasing downstream power generation, the province of B.C. receives a “Canadian Entitlement” that sees the U.S. send the province about 250 million dollars worth of electricity every year.

Those “downstream benefits” are among the subjects up for renegotiation.

@Jnsherman
jake.sherman@revelstokereview.com

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