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249 The Columbia River Treaty after 2024 Chris W. Sanderson Introduction The primary focus of this volume is on the challenges and opportunities surrounding the possible continuation, termination, and/or amendment to the Columbia River Treaty after 2024.Any discussion of what should happen post treaty must be based on a clear understanding of what has happened under the treaty.This chapter will argue that the current treaty served the objectives of its parties admirably and that that success should be recognized as a starting point when considering how best to utilize the resources of the Columbia River going forward. This chapter makes two important assumptions: First, that the primary measure of the treaty’s success should be determined by the extent to which it met the ambitions of Canada and the United States, the two sponsoring sovereign states. Second, that bilateralism between Canada and the United States remains sufficiently robust that each country will want to cooperatively manage the Columbia River’s water flow in the future to maximize certain objectives, each defined on a sovereign basis, whether or not those objectives continue to be confined to power production and flood control. Finally, it is important to note that these observations are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are based on input from any official participant or stakeholder with the treaty. The value of the observations, if any, stem from the author’s past involvement with the treaty and not from any engagement or responsibility he currently has in connection with the treaty. *** In February of 1960,Canada and the United States commenced direct negotiations for the cooperative development and management of the Columbia River. Less than a year later, the Columbia River Treaty was signed. Despite this apparent expedition, the treaty, which was ratified by Canada in 1964, was the culmination of fifteen years of cooperative study and discussion between Canada and the United States. In its simplest terms, commitments made by Canada pursuant to the treaty enabled the United States to undertake projects on the Columbia River to increase its overall capability for the production of hydroelectric power and to provide the Pacific Northwest with much needed flood protection. In exchange for its commitments, Canada received a lump sum payment for flood control and an 250 ChrisW . Sanderson entitlement to one half of the extra power benefits produced downstream as a result of the cooperative use of Columbia River water resources. The treaty serves well as a model for international cooperation. Its underlying principles provide for the equitable utilization of the river’s resources, while also providing for the flexibility needed to facilitate desirable project development. This chapter will outline the historical framework of the treaty, identify some of the issues that have been addressed by Canada and the United States within the treaty context, and highlight the significant aspects of the treaty that make it a model for international cooperation. My thesis is that the existing treaty offers some valuable lessons for structuring the post-2024 arrangement. One is that the treaty permits each nation to cooperate with the other without compromising their sovereignty. Preservation of this feature will be key to successfully addressing the many challenges that face negotiators as they approach 2024 because, as is explained below, it will impose a burden on each of the treaty nations (the parties) to resolve underlying issues of domestic resource allocation in domestic forums. International discussions between the parties can then be left to focus on international issues. Historical Framework of the Columbia RiverTreaty Physical Characteristics of the Columbia River To appreciate the enormity of the cooperative development facilitated by the treaty, it is useful to have a mental picture of the river itself.The Columbia River and its tributaries drain an area of approximately 259,000 square miles,mostly between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range.The river basin (the main stem of the Columbia River and its major international tributaries) extends 270 miles north into Canada and 550 miles south into the United States.The maximum width is approximately 730 miles.The Canadian portion of the river basin, 39,500 square miles, is situated in the south easterly part of British Columbia.The United States portion of the basin, 219,500 square miles, includes most of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, all of Montana west of the Continental Divide, and small areas of Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The Columbia River rises in Columbia Lake in the Rocky...


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