U.S. diplomats will soon be getting their feet wet in the details of the Columbia River Treaty, a document the United States and Canada have used to oversee river operations for a half century.
As my column explains, the U.S. State Department will soon receive proposed treaty revisions, and decide whether to proceed with negotiations, and what those talks might include. Next year, 2014, represents the 10-year lead time the treaty requires for substantive changes or termination in 2024.
The treaty is a complex working document, but most of the tension is about the formula used to calculate the Canadian Entitlement, the payment made for Canada’s initial participation and continuing role. One of the potential casualties of any future fallout over payments is the successful system of flood management in the treaty. A potential replacement model sounds way too informal and spontaneous to inspire confidence.
As the regional recommendations head to Washington, D.C., it will be interesting to see what the State Department chooses to defend and fight for.