Regulators: Renegotiate Columbia River treaty

September 20, 2013 • National News

FILE – This June 1, 2011 file photo shows Grand Coulee Dam, the nation’s largest dam, on the Columbia River in Washington state. U.S. negotiators are proposing to elevate ecosystem functions to the same level as hydroelectric power production and flood control as goals of river management in the Columbia River Treaty with Canada. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A U.S.-Canada treaty that governs operations of the fourth-largest river in North America — affecting everything from power prices and water supplies to grain shipments and recreation in the Pacific Northwest — should be renegotiated to make the system more flexible amid climate change and to aid threatened and endangered species that weren’t considered when the treaty was created decades ago, federal regulators recommended in a draft document released to The Associated Press.

However, the document also says efforts to improve the ecosystem should not impair often competing efforts to ensure long-enjoyed low power prices in the region, which are made possible by 11 U.S. hydropower dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Bill Dobbins, general manager of the Douglas County Public Utility District, which operates Wells Dam in Washington state, said the proposal to increase river flows in the spring, when it would help young salmon migrating to the ocean, would lead to less power production from the dams. Generators are already operating at capacity Login to read more

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