The Columbia River Treaty

A Primer

ISBN 9781771600422
Hardcover | Publication Date: November 14, 2014
Book Dimensions: 4.75 in x 7 in
168 Pages
$16.00 CAD

About the Book

The Columbia River Treaty: A Primer is a vital work that clearly explains the nature of this complex water agreement between Canada and the United States and how its impending update will impact communities, landscapes, industry and water supplies between the two countries for many years to come.

The Columbia River Treaty ratification in 1964 created the largest hydropower project in North America, with additional emphasis on flood protection for the USA. As the Treaty approaches its 60th anniversary, and the first opportunity for modification, its signatories are preparing proposals for new ways forward, and stakeholders on both sides of the border are speaking up.

This primer explores the initial intent of the Treaty and its success to date, its costs to Columbia Basin residents and ecosystems, and new influences the signatories must now consider. Shifts in social norms related to the environment, equity and social justice, new views on the relevance of Indigenous traditional and local knowledge, and the economic and physical effects of a changing climate—are all considered as factors in future Treaty governance. The primer concludes with a summary of the perspectives that currently exist between and within each country with respect to Treaty benefits and outlines the next steps that will take place in the negotiation process. The authors conclude with a call to action, in the hope that a renewed Columbia River Treaty might prove a model for outstanding transboundary water agreements around the world as they strive to meet not only the challenges of the present day but also the needs of future generations.

About the Author(s)

Deborah Harford is the executive director of ACT. She has engaged with local, national and international climate change research practitioners, NGOs, industry representatives, all levels of government, First Nations groups and local communities on various issues surrounding climate change.

Dr. Jon O’Riordan is a senior policy and research adviser to ACT (the Adaptation to Climate Change Team) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He has formerly served as deputy minister of sustainable resource management and as assistant deputy minister of environment in the British Columbia government.

Robert William Sandford is the EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. He is the co-author of the UN Water in the World We Want report on post-2015 global sustainable development goals relating to water. He is also the author of some 30 books on the history, heritage and landscape of the Canadian Rockies, including Water, Weather and the Mountain West, The Weekender Effect: Hyperdevelopment in Mountain Towns, Restoring the Flow: Confronting the World's Water Woes, Ethical Water: Learning to Value What Matters Most, Cold Matters: The State and Fate of Canada’s Fresh Water, Saving Lake Winnipeg, Flood Forecast: Climate Risk and Resiliency in Canada, Storm Warning: Water and Climate Security in a Changing World and North America in the Anthropocene. He is also a co-author of The Columbia River Treaty: A Primer, The Climate Nexus: Water, Food, Energy and Biodiversity in a Changing World and The Hard Work of Hope: Climate Change in the Age of Trump. Robert lives in Canmore, Alberta.