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43 the treaty and its implementation The Columbia River Treaty: Managing for Uncertainty James D. Barton and Kelvin Ketchum Overview The Columbia River Treaty is an international agreement established for the cooperative management of the Columbia River system in Canada and the United States. Since it was signed in 1961, the treaty has served as an excellent example of transboundary cooperation and governance in the face of uncertainty. This chapter will provide a brief background on the treaty, describe the many aspects of uncertainty involved in managing and governing the operation of the Columbia River system, and highlight examples of how the treaty has successfully facilitated the management of this uncertainty. Treaty Background The Columbia River, the fourth largest river on the continent as measured by average annual flow, generates more hydropower than any other river in North America.While its headwaters originate in British Columbia (B.C.), only about 15 percent of the 259,500 square miles of the Columbia River Basin is actually located in Canada.Yet the Canadian waters account for about 38 percent of the average annual volume, and up to 50 percent of the peak floodwaters that flow by The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River between Oregon andWashington.In the 1940s, officials from the United States and Canada began a long process to seek a joint solution to the flooding caused by the Columbia River and to the postwar demand for greater energy resources.That effort culminated in the Columbia River Treaty, an international agreement between Canada and the United States of America for the cooperative development of water resources regulation in the upper Columbia River Basin. It was signed in 1961and implemented in 1964.The treaty has served as a model of international cooperation since 1964, bringing significant flood damage reduction and power generation benefits to both countries. One of the major reasons for the treaty was to improve flood risk management in the Columbia River Basin.In 1948,a spring flood caused major damage all along the river and its tributaries in both countries, particularly to the cities of Trail, B.C. andVanport, Oregon.Vanport, the second largest city in Oregon at that time, 44 James D. Barton & Kelvin Ketchum was completely destroyed.The flood displaced thirty thousand people from their homes and caused more than fifty deaths.The magnitude of the flood event served as a trigger for action and added a sense of urgency to international discussions of flood control.The United States and Canada collaborated to identify a preferred method—a coordinated development plan—that would address Columbia River Basin flooding and meet the region’s increasing demands for energy. The treaty created two entities to implement theTreaty—a U.S. Entity and a Canadian Entity. The U.S. Entity, created by the President, consists of the Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Northwestern Division Engineer of the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers.The BPA Administrator serves as chair of the U.S.Entity and is responsible primarily for hydropower operations and issues under the treaty while the Corps Northwestern Division Engineer is responsible for flood risk management under the treaty.The Canadian Entity,appointed by the Canadian Federal Cabinet, is the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro). A main component of the treaty called for Canada to develop reservoirs in the upstream reaches of the Columbia River Basin sufficient to provide 15.5 million acre-feet of live storage.To do this, Canada built three dams: Duncan (1968), Hugh Keenleyside, also referred to as Arrow (1969), and Mica (1973). The treaty also allowed the United States to build Libby Dam on the Kootenai River, a tributary of the Columbia River, in Montana. Construction on the Libby Dam began in 1966 and was completed in 1973; the reservoir impounded by the dam is Lake Koocanusa, which backs up forty-two miles into Canada. Together, these four treaty dams more than doubled the storage capacity of the Columbia River Basin at the time. The treaty also requires the United States and Canada to prepare annually an Assured Operating Plan for the operation of Canadian treaty storage six years in advance of each operating year. The Assured Operating Plan is developed to meet flood control and power objectives, the only recognized purposes for project operation when the treaty was signed.(Note that consumptive uses,such as drinking water and irrigation, are not constrained by the treaty.) Sharing the benefits of cooperative water management was an...


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