Testimony given to a house committee meeting in the Tri-Cities Monday now heads to the State Department, which is reviewing the Columbia River Treaty with Canada.
PASCO, WA – Testimony given to a house committee meeting in the Tri-Cities Monday now heads to the State Department, which is reviewing the Columbia River Treaty with Canada.
The treaty, signed sixty-five years ago, primarily focuses on flood control, power production, irrigation, and navigation.
Doc Hastings, the congressman representing the Mid-Columbia and chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, says he's concerned with the draft recommendations of the U.S. Entity. Members of the entity say salmon recovery and other environmental concerns should be included when the treaty comes up for renewal.
Hastings says adding ecosystem issues into the treaty are not necessary and would only complicate an already challenging process.
"One cannot argue the numbers show the fish runs are coming back in greater numbers. So something is working, and why you would introduce a new element concerns me," Hastings says.
Other panelists, including Brigadier General John Kem, Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Northwest Division say it's time the treaty include ecosystems when considering storing and releasing water from the Columbia river.
"Over the past 20 years we have worked with Canada to mutually agree on storing and releasing water for both Canadian and U.S. ecosystem purposes," Kem says. "The U.S. Entity's view is that it is appropriate to formalize and gain more certainty for these operations."
Starting in 2014, either the United State or Canada can terminate the treaty with a ten-year notice. Both governments are reassessing the treaty to consider changes and develop recommendations for future negotiations.