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Columbia River Treaty

December 12, 2020

CBC – A cross-border treaty that has regulated the flow of the Columbia River for over 50 years could be in jeopardy as a group of American politicians calls on the president to invoke his executive authority and terminate the treaty. The Columbia River Treaty was ratified by the United States and Canada in 1964 and resulted in the construction of four huge hydro-electric dams — three in Canada and one in the U.S. — to reduce the risk of flooding and generate billions of dollars worth of electricity.

According to the Canadian government, the treaty is considered a model of international cooperation on hydropower development. Certain provisions of the treaty are set to expire in 2024 and negotiators in Canada and the U.S. have been working on a new deal for more than two years. But U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse will table a resolution in the House of Representatives asking President Donald Trump to issue a termination notice for the treaty. He has the support of other members of congress. Newhouse calls the treaty a “bad deal” and says it is “outdated and unfair.”

The U.S. states of the Pacific Northwest essentially want to pay far less for the right to store water in British Columbia. The storage of water in B.C. also allows for the generation of more hydro-electricity at 11 dams south of the border. Under the treaty, Canada and the U.S. share that benefit on a 50-50 basis