Attend U.S. State Department “Townhall” meeting on Future of the Columbia River

By April 24, 2018Conservation
U.S. State Department Town hall meeting on April 25

Please attend the U.S. State Department “Townhall” meeting on April 25 

When:   5 p.m. – 7 p.m. April 25, (Wednesday) 

Where:  Davenport Hotel, Isabella Room – Spokane

Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty – righting historic wrongs, restoring river health and salmon in a time of climate change — is a huge opportunity that we cannot miss.  The Trump and Trudeau Administrations are about to start negotiating on the future of our rivers. Please attend the following U.S. State Department “Townhall” meeting and make the 4 points below.

For more information:  U.S. State Department – Columbia River Treaty

Contacts, Ethics & Treaty Project:  


Thousands of people in the Columbia River Basin and Pacific Northwest have submitted comments to the federal government asking for badly needed changes to the Columbia River Treaty to protect and restore the Columbia River in a time of climate change.  As the U.S. State Department begins treaty negotiations with Canada, we ask that you incorporate the following 4 points in the U.S. negotiating position:

(1)  We are a Community of the Columbia.  U.S. and Canada are neighbors, with a shared history and interconnecting economies and families especially along the border.  We place great value on our relationships within the river basin.  Negotiators need to recognize and respect this transboundary relationship – and commit to maximum transparency and inclusiveness for the negotiations and embedded in a modernized Treaty.  This will lead to best outcomes for our nations, the Columbia River Basin, and the communities of the Basin.

(2)  Needed:  common Information Base for informed decision-making.

Both nations need to work together, not against each other, for the future of the Columbia Basin and our communities. The Columbia is ONE RIVER, and the uses of the river should be managed as such; if we do something in the headwaters that disrupts downriver, then that is not right, and vice-versa.

      Just recently the State Department and Global Affairs Canada halted the collaborative modeling workgroup that involved sovereigns and stakeholders in an process to develop a common information base for the Treaty negotiations.

     That decision should be reconsidered and the collaborative modeling workgroup should be reconfigured to support negotiations, including stakeholders as well as sovereigns.

(3)  One River, Ethics Matter

– We have a moral responsibility to restore what has been lost and to ensure that a modernized treaty includes tools to respond to climate disruption and other changes that may come in the years ahead.  The new treaty needs to restore resilience to our natural systems: assuring healthy watersheds and salmon for all into the future.

– We have a moral duty to act, and people are willing to pay for restoring rivers.  Recent polling has shown that people in Washington State are willing to pay to protect wild salmon  (Poll Highlights pdf)

– The U.S. State Department has previously been provided copies of the Columbia River Pastoral Letter, and needs to base decisions on the ethical principles of justice and stewardship.

(4)  Water is Life:  Ethics and Science needed, the River is Sacred

(1) Ecosystem-based Function.   Ecosystem-based function should be prioritized as a 3rd purpose, co-equal to the existing Treaty’s 2 purposes: hydropower and flood risk management.

In the US this means, in large part, streamflows from Canada and US hydro operations with appropriate timing, quantity and water quality to promote healthy populations of native fish and wildlife. In Canada, this means, in large part, that reservoir operations are tailored to reduce impacts to local ecosystems.

Restoring salmon in the blocked areas of the River Basin, including above Grand Coulee dam is a part of Ecosystem-based Function.

(2) Flexibility.  Because we do not know all we need to know now and because energy markets are rapidly changing and because climate change presents a massive wild card for the future in the basin, the modernized Treaty should incorporate principles of flexibility and adaptive management in addition to baseline improvements in ecosystem function.

(3)  Water is Life:  Who speaks for the River and Future Generations?  We are concerned that the current make-up of the U.S. negotiating team is inadequate and fails to assure those who were left out previously and whose knowledge and history are essential to effective future management of our shared heritage are represented.  This becomes apparent in looking at the current make-up of the U.S. negotiating team:

– Army Corps of Engineers (dams, flood management)

– BPA (hydropower generation)

– Dept of Interior/Bureau of Reclamation (dams, irrigation)

– NOAA fisheries (an abysmal record on the 4 lower Snake River dams)
Treaty negotiating teams need to include a Voice for the River, life that depends on the River, and future generations.