Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described how the treaty would end. The error has been corrected in this version.
U.S. and Canada
When and why: Approved in 1964 to reduce flood danger along the Columbia River and regulate river flow to maximize hydropower production.
Term: Treaty and Canadian Entitlement (see below) have an initial end date in 2024. They will continue automatically unless both parties agree to terminate. Flood control benefits will continue on a pay-as-you-go system. Parties must give notice by September 2014 of their intention to terminate or modify.
Requirements: Canada built Mica and Arrow (renamed Keenleyside) dams on the Columbia River and Duncan Dam on the Duncan River. All three hold back huge reservoirs that provide 8.45 million acre feet of treaty storage.
The U.S. built Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. Its reservoir, Lake Koocanusa, spans both sides of the border.
How it works: The three entities charged with carrying out the treaty are BC Hydro, a utility owned by the Province of British Columbia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Portland-based Bonneville Power Administration. Each year they jointly come up with a flow regime. The BPA and the Army Corps then call for water, as needed, according to the plan.
Storage payment: The U.S. paid Canada a lump sum of $64.4 million for flood control.
Power benefits: U.S. delivers electricity to Canada equal to half the extra generation made possible by a river flow controlled by Canada’s reservoirs. U.S. says this amounts to $250 million to $350 million annually. Canada says its $100 million to $300 million. Chelan, Grant and Douglas PUDs provide 27.5 percent of this power.
Flow certainty: An earlier agreement, the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 prevents either country from diverting the Columbia from its cross-border flow.
What’s next: BPA and Army Corps expect to make a recommendation on treaty to U.S. Government by mid December. A draft will likely be available earlier. Province of BC expects to release its analysis of the true value of the Canadian Entitlement in a couple weeks.
Sources: Province of British Columbia, Bonneville Power Administration; Army Corps of Engineers; Chelan, Douglas, Grant County PUDs