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50 The Columbia River: Operation under the 1964 Treaty Anthony G.White The Columbia River system is a massive system that affects one province in Canada and seven states in the U.S. Because of the importance of this river—in supplying hydroelectric production,navigation and irrigation,as well as the fact that the system crosses an international boundary—proper coordination of all dams in the system is vital. The state, federal, and provincial organizations involved in and affected by the Columbia River system have worked to develop a coordinated management plan to ensure all uses of Columbia River dams—hydroelectric generation, flood control, irrigation, recreation, tribal culture, and fish and wildlife protection—are adequately met. The Columbia River System The Columbia is the fourth largest river in North America when measured by average annual flow (about 198 million acre-feet at its mouth). However, when measured using flow multiplied by change in elevation, the Columbia is the most powerful river in North America because much of the river flows from Rocky Mountain lakes and tributaries. Only 15 percent of the 259,500 square miles of the Columbia River Basin is in Canada, but between 30 and 38 percent of the average annual flow, and up to 50 percent of the peak flood flows, come from Canada. The basin drains central British Columbia, as well as western Montana, Idaho, large portions of Oregon and Washington, and smaller areas of Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.The Columbia River is characterized by heavy, sustained flows during the spring, with peak flow typically occurring in mid-June. Historical flows at the U.S.-Canada border vary from 14,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to more than 550,000 cfs.Average flow at the U.S. dams ranges from 109,500 cfs at 6,809MW Grand Coulee, the most upstream U.S. project, to 184,900 cfs at 1,089-MW Bonneville, the project furthest downstream. Before 1968, the total usable system storage in the Columbia River Basin was only about 13 million acre-feet, or 6 percent of the average annual flow (perhaps as much as 18 million-acre-feet if all irrigation,stock pond,and private impoundments were tallied). By comparison, other major U.S. rivers—such as the Missouri and Colorado—have two to three times as much storage as average annual flow.This lack of storage caused significant flood control and hydropower management The Columbia River: Operation under the 1964 Treaty 51 problems at the eleven mainstem federal and municipal dams on the Columbia River in the U.S. (Bonneville Power Administration 2001). The 1964 Columbia River Treaty is the culmination of centuries of diplomacy between the United States and Canada (or Great Britain).A brief overview of the treaties preceding it sets the stage for the geographic boundary between the two countries that would divide the Columbia River Basin. Treaty of Paris (1783).This treaty was the formal end of the Revolutionary War and recognition by Great Britain of the thirteen colonies to be free, separate, and independent states. Initial boundaries based upon very inaccurate surveys and maps of North America were set forth, and led to later confusion (Treaty of Paris 1783). Anglo-American Convention of 1818. Also called the Treaty of 1818, this treaty extended the boundary between the U.S. and British North America from the Lake of the Woods, along the 49th Parallel (latitude) to the Stony (later “Rocky”) Mountains.It resolved long-standing boundary issues,settled fishing rights disputes, allowed joint settlement of the Oregon Territory (the Columbia District of the Hudson’s Bay Company) while deferring resolution of legal and territorial issues, and gave territory around the Red River to the U.S. while ceding the northernmost tip of the Louisiana Purchase (now in Alberta) to Britain (Anglo-American Convention 1818). The Oregon Treaty (1846). Some sixty-seven years after the creation of the United States,Americans had steadily colonized the regions west of the Mississippi River. President James Polk’s offer to extend the 49th Parallel through the Oregon Territory was rejected by Great Britain, leading political expansionists of the “manifest destiny”school to reach out for annexation of the area up to the northern boundary of 54 degrees, 40 minutes North (“54-40 or fight”), which was also the southern boundary of Russian America, and would have included the entire Columbia Basin (Pletcher 1973). Secretary of State (later President) James Buchanan negotiated and concluded this treaty shortly after the outbreak of...


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