Friday, December 8, 2023

Columbia River Treaty: revenues, electricity and ecosystems at stake

The Columbia River, one of the largest rivers in British Columbia, crosses the border of the United States and empties into the Pacific in Oregon. The dams on both sides are governed by an agreement that is currently being renegotiated.

The Columbia River Basin is a critical source of electricity, providing about 40% of the United States’ hydroelectric power, while British Columbia gets nearly half of its electricity generation from the region.

These dams also provide flood control to prevent a repeat of the massive floods of 1948, which killed 50 people and left 46,000 people homeless.

The agreement governing these dams was approved in 1964; it defines the control of the flow of water in the river and the benefits of this rain in hydroelectric power as well as the tens of millions of dollars generated annually.

Renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty has been underway for several years, and the potential agreement could have far-reaching consequences for the river’s electricity flow and the people and wildlife that depend on it.

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19e negotiation meeting in October

British Columbia’s chief negotiator, Kathy Eichenberger, said the Canadian government has some important priorities, including maintaining greater flexibility in Canadian water flows and increasing consideration of river ecosystems. . as the third leg of the stool to be based on electricity production and flood control.

The negotiators held a series of discussion sessions and the 19e session will take place in October in Portland, Oregon. Certain provisions of the Treaty will expire in September 2024. After this date, Canada will be able to provide flood prevention services to the United States.

We must take the time to develop an agreement that requires a lot of change and include things like ecosystems, salmon, adaptive management and climate change (…). These are new concepts not discussed in the original treatise.

The Americans have their own concerns for this revised agreement because the amount of hydroelectric power can be traced back to Canada. This part of the power is called Canadian law.

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We give Canada the output of one giant power plant every year expressed in Seattle Times in August Columbia River Treaty Power Group President Scott Simms. It would be easier, from a transactional point of view, to bring wheelbarrows full of money and drop them at the Canadian border.

The ecosystem is in balance

Kathy Eichenberger countered that Canada believes it can prove that what it receives represents half of the additional revenue from electricity production. The way Canadian flows are managed actually increases (the Americans’) ability to produce more electricity to meet the needs of their citizens and their industries. (…) It is a fundamental principle of the Treaty to create good and share it equitably.

If ecosystems were not at the heart of the Treaty in the 1960s, it is for indigenous groups that are now part of the Canadian negotiating team. Fish stocks, especially salmon, represent a major concern.

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(Salmons) are more important to our peoplesaid Chad Eneas, an elder in the Penticton Indigenous community, to Bob Keatin, an independent journalist who produced a documentary called The house. “I think it’s important because it’s a keystone species in the Columbia (River). »

Some still do not accept that they lost land because of the dams. Twins Janet and Crystal Spicer grew up in Nakusp, British Columbia, in a farming family near Arrow Lakes, part of the Columbia River system. The family lost their farm during the construction of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam in 1968.

All of this is extremely thoughtless and irreversible. That’s the problem: it doesn’t look like it can be restored, by Janet Spicer. His sister added this: The farm will never return, but the people want a living river.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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