Workshop: The Columbia River Treaty Past, Present, and Future

October 07, 2015 Sonora Centre, Osoyoos, British Columbia

This ambitious one-day workshop reviewed the history, purpose and scope of the 51-year old Columbia River Treaty (CRT). It evaluated where the Treaty stands today in the context of hydro-electric power generation and downstream flood control, and where it may go in the future, given the unanticipated impacts and changes in values that have occurred over the past 51 years and the many new realities and uncertainties such as climate change, public involvement expectations, and First Nations rights and expectations on both sides of the U.S./Canada boundary.

Set in the south Okanagan valley community of Osoyoos, British Columbia, the presentations and discussions addressed the unique socio-economic situation of the Okanagan Valley as a sub-basin of the Columbia, as well as the social, economic, legal and environmental concerns, anomalies and impacts of this aging international treaty on the wider Columbia River Basin. Although the presentations illustrated the many scientific, legal and political complexities surrounding the Treaty, every effort was made during the discussion periods to ground these issues in everyday language, and in the Okanagan context.

The workshop was organized and hosted by the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) and the Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT) at Simon Fraser University. Other key supporters and sponsors included the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB), the Real Estate Foundation of BC, the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Town of Osoyoos, Associated Engineering B.C. Ltd., and Summit Environmental Consultants Inc.

Proceedings and Outcomes