Daily Sun News Editorial

Columbia River treaty is a priority


Federal officials seem to think the Columbia River treaty with Canada isn’t important enough for renegotiations to begin.

So this year, five senators and 17 representatives from the Pacific Northwest wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to make the treaty a priority and begin negotiations.

Most of us here in Central Washington take the water, power and recreation that comes with the Columbia River for granted. But the treaty, which has not been revised since 1964, provides the framework for the river’s usage.

While the treaty doesn’t expire completely until 2024, we believe it’s important to get renegotiations under way. At issue with the treaty is flood control and power generation.

Under the existing treaty, Canada is providing flood control by holding back river water and spring runoff. When the treaty expires, only vague flood management remains. Given the growth in population and agriculture here since the treaty was ratified in 1964, management of spring runoff and potential flooding is a priority for those of us both north and south of the border.

The existing treaty also provides Canada a large amount of the electricity we generate from dams on our side of the board. But with power costs skyrocketing, ratepayers here need to know how much more power they will be able to keep locally to stave off more electricity price increases.

Federal officials have said they would begin negotiations this year. But with two-thirds of the year almost wrapped up and no renegotiation plan, we’re concerned the Columbia River Treaty has been put on the back burner.

The treaty needs to be a priority.


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