The “Columbia River Treaty – Past, Present and Future” was held at the Sonora Centre, Osoyoos, B.C. on October 7, 2015.
This ambitious one-day workshop, held the day before the 2015 Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum, reviewed the history, purpose and scope of the 51 year-old Columbia River Treaty. It evaluated where the Treaty stands today in the context of hydro-electric power generation and downstream flood control on an international river, and where it may go in the future, given unanticipated impacts and changes in values that have occurred over the past 51 years, many new realities and uncertainties such as climate change, public involvement expectations, and First Nations concerns on both sides of the U.S./Canada boundary.
Set in the south Okanagan valley community of Osoyoos, British Columbia, the presentations and discussions addressed the unique socio-economic situation of the Okanagan Valley as a sub-basin of the Columbia as well as the social, economic, legal and environmental concerns, anomalies and impacts of this aging international treaty on the wider Columbia River Basin. Although the presentations illustrate the many scientific, legal and political complexities surrounding the Treaty, every effort was made during the discussion periods to ground these issues in everyday language, and in the Okanagan context.
The organizers invited all interested parties from the Okanagan Valley and beyond to participate in this rare opportunity to hear some of the most notable experts on the topic, and contribute local and regional knowledge to the discussions.