Environment & Energy

In Our View: It’s Time To Tweak Treaty After 50 years, crucial Columbia River pact with Canada must be updated

As anniversaries go, tradition says a gift of gold was warranted. After all, the union between the United States and Canada, as spelled out in the Columbia River Treaty, turned 50 last week.

That might have been a cause for celebration, yet both parties remained largely silent as they ponder the future of a partnership that has helped define the Columbia River for a half-century. Originally signed by President Eisenhower and Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1961, then ratified on Sept. 16, 1964, the Columbia River Treaty has called for Canada to provide flood protection for the lower reaches of the river in exchange for hydroelectric power. The compact has been crucial to successful management of the 1,240-mile waterway that begins in Canada, winds its way through the Northwest, passes Vancouver’s doorstep, and empties into the Pacific Ocean.