Columbia River Gorge at Rowena

The Columbia River Gorge at Rowena

Jill Small, U.S. Columbia River Treaty negotiator, will lead a town hall Thursday evening in Boise on the ongoing negotiations over the international treaty with Canada, to be co-hosted at the Idaho Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium by the office of Gov. Brad Little and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The event will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

The Columbia River Treaty, dating back to 1961, provides for cooperation across the U.S.-Canada border on water issues including flood risk management, hydropower operations, irrigation, water use, navigation, recreation and more.

Bilateral negotiations among the two nations started in May of 2018; the U.S. negotiators are following a consensus document issued in 2013 after five years of consultations among tribes, states, stakeholders, federal agencies and the public. That document was entitled, “U.S. Entity Regional Recommendation for the Future of the Columbia River Treaty After 2024,” which is the first year the current treaty could be terminated, though that would have required 10 years notice. Some provisions, however, expire in that year, and the negotiations cover what will happen after that. The U.S. negotiating team is led by the U.S. Department of State, and includes the BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, and NOAA.

During the town hall meeting, officials will provide an update on the negotiations and answer questions from the public, but those questions must be submitted in advance; they can be sent via email to ColumbiaRiverTreaty@state.gov. There’s also more info online here.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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