The flow of the Columbia dominates our lives and livelihoods. It supplies our power, light, warmth, industry, commerce, food and sustenance. As such, the treaty between the United States and Canada governing our shared responsibilities for the river is of supreme importance. The prospect of changing that treaty is filled with both risk an promise.
The Columbia River Treaty was signed in 1964 as a response to the great 1948 flood. Under its terms three dams were built in Canada and Libby Dam in Montana to store Columbia water for safe and appropriate release. The United States paid $64 million for flood storage and agreed to a so-called Canadian Entitlement, payment in the form of power sent north, now valued at $250 million to $350 million a year, 27 percent from Chelan, Douglas and Grant PUDs.