The Columbia River, Basin and Treaty
The Columbia River and its associated basin are of vital importance to the State of Washington and to the Pacific Northwest region as a whole. The Basin occupies more than 70 percent of the state and irrigates agriculture valued at over $1.5 Billion per year. The river is the fourth largest in North America, can generate more than 24,000 megawatts of hydropower along the main stem, transports 17 million tons of freight per year, is a link to over 10,000 miles of stream available to salmon and steelhead, and is a treasured cultural resource. In addition to the State of Washington, the Basin extends into six other U.S. states, and British Columbia.
The Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada in effect since 1964 may be drastically altered as early as 2024 with notice to do so permitted as early as 2014. The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty will have dramatic impact on flood control, hydropower generation, ecological habitat, agricultural water supply, and recreational use of the Columbia River.
In addition to changes in the treaty and operation of the river, climate change and population grown are anticipated to compound existing water use and land use stresses on basin management. Numerous projects in the basin have been completed and are being considered in an effort to increase water reliability and instream habitat to meet the recovery goals of ESA Listed salmon and steelhead as well as the needs of water users. These projects are basin-wide.
The 2012 American Water Resources Association Washington State Conference will explore these topics, provide an overview of the treaty renegotiation process, and offer perspectives from stakeholders from both inside and outside the Washington border. The multi-day conference will include a field trip to key points of interest within the basin, including Grand Coulee Dam and the Quincy Canal, and two days of stimulating presentations, discussion and networking.
Please see our conference webpage for complete details on the conference!