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First Round of Negotiations Conclude on Columbia River Treaty

Dan Newhouse/Twitter

The first two days of negotiations on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada have concluded.

The United States and Canada began negotiations this week to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. During two days of talks, the U.S. and Canadian negotiators discussed objectives and reaffirmed the spirit of cooperation between the two countries.

The U.S. objectives were defined as careful management of flood risk, ensuring a reliable and economical power supply, and better addressing ecosystem concerns.

American negotiators have expressed concern about what some call the “Canadian entitlement”.

Part of the deal requires the U.S. to pay Canada for storing water in reservoirs on the Canadian side of the border to provide flood control on the U.S. side. In addition, The U.S. is required to send back a portion of the electricity generated here to Canada.

U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-Washington), says many utilities feel Canada is getting the better part of that deal.

“And that’s the issue, whether or not it’s equitable, whether the value of what we are reimbursing them for those reservoirs is where it should be," Newhouse said. "Many of the utilities feel that it needs to be recalculated, because it was based on declining production of hydropower. We were anticipating 50 years ago to see other forms of energy contribute more than they have."

It’s estimated the electricity sent back to Canada is worth as much as $335 million.

The U.S. and Canadian teams plan to hold the next round of discussions August 15-16, in British Columbia.