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Columbia River Treaty Review

The 1964 Columbia River Treaty is an international agreement between Canada and the United States of America for the cooperative development and operation of the water resources of the Columbia River Basin for the benefit of flood control and power.

The Treaty calls for two implementing "entities" — a U.S. Entity and a Canadian Entity. The U.S. Entity consists of the Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Northwestern Division Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The Canadian Entity is the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (B.C. Hydro).

Under the Treaty, the two nations jointly manage the river as it flows from British Columbia into the United States. Although the Treaty has no termination date, it has two provisions that take effect on and after Sept.16, 2024, that will change how flood control is implemented between the two countries and that may also impact power benefits and fish operations. Sept 16, 2024 is also the earliest date that either Canada or the United States has the option to terminate most of the provisions of the Treaty, with a minimum 10 years’ written notice.

The U.S. and Canadian Entities are jointly exploring the future of the Columbia River Treaty, for several possible changes after 2024. The U.S. Entity has convened a team of tribal, state and federal government representatives to help identify and study policy and technical matters associated with the Treaty Review process. This team is known as the Sovereign Review Team (SRT).

A subset of the SRT is the Sovereign Technical Team. (STT) This group is ultimately responsible for the completion of the technical work that will inform the SRT and the U.S. entity. The STT will develop study scope, alternatives, alternative evaluation methodologies, alternative impact assessments, documentation of results, which it will submit all of its work to the SRT for review and approval.

Working under the guidance of the STT, a group of scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Corps and the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP) are studying the impact of various Columbia River Treaty alternatives, coupled with climate change, on the estuarine habitat. The SATURN collaboratory supports this joint effort.

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