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Columbia River Treaty talks continue between Canada, U.S.

File photo of the Columbia River and the Dalles Dam in Oregon. Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press

The Central Okanagan played host to the latest round in Columbia River Treaty talks between Canada and the United States.

The two-day meeting took place in Kelowna, May 16-17, with negotiating teams discussing how to modernize the treaty.

Discussions on updating the treaty began in May 2018, and this week’s talks were the 17th round of negotiations.

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According to the U.S. Dept. of State, “the year 2024 is a significant date for the Treaty, as the current flood risk management provisions change to a less-defined approach.”

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On Friday, B.C. released some information about the talks in Kelowna, saying the delegations advanced discussions about a range of key topics, including:

  • Hydropower operation planning
  • Integrating Canada’s desire for greater flexibility into treaty dam operations
  • Incorporating input from Indigenous Nations and U.S. Tribes into treaty operations
  • Opportunities to enhance ecosystem health
  • Collaboration on ongoing salmon reintroduction studies
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The province said following negotiating sessions, the two delegations toured a fish hatchery near Penticton and took part in a sockeye salmon release ceremony, hosted by the Syilx Okanagan Nation.

Representatives of the Syilx Okanagan, Ktunaxa and Secwepemc nations are part of the Canadian delegation, along with the federal and provincial governments.

“These events gave both teams the chance to learn about efforts being led by the Okanagan Nation Alliance and U.S. Tribes to restore the historical range and abundance of sockeye salmon in the upper Okanagan watershed, Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake systems,” said B.C.’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.

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“Canadian negotiators believe this work is a prime example of what can be achieved through close transboundary collaboration and feel that such cross-border partnerships are critical to addressing ecosystem, economic and flood-risk management issues as the treaty modernization process moves forward.”

More information about the Columbia River Treaty is available on the provincial government website and the U.S. Dept. of State website.

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