The Columbia River Treaty Essay Research Paper

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The Columbia River Treaty Essay, Research Paper The Columbia River Treaty The Columbia River Treaty: was it a benefit or a rip off to the Canadian people? Although it has been argued both ways, my position is that the deal struck benefited the US and adversely affected British Columbia. While we did receive money from the US for the sale of electricity, this money does not adequately compensate for the loss of the benefits derived from actual water usage. I hope to inform the readers of the importance of this treaty, why it was controversial, as well as look at the political, environmental and economical factors that affected and influenced people’s opinions of the value of this treaty. The Columbia River has been harnessed for power, irrigation, flood control, and

navigation. It started in 1942 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam, the largest on the Columbia River, now called the eighth wonder of the world. The dam has 11 gates to allow the water to fall from twice the height of Niagara Falls, at a rate of a hundred million gallons a minute. This dam is located in Washington State in the U.S.A. “The river drains an area larger than France, and drops over 2,650 feet in elevation as it travels 1,214 miles from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River and its tributaries make up what people refer to as the Columbia River. The total hydro electricity generated by this system is a third of all the hydroelectricity power generated in the United States. ” (Boyer, pg. 821-826). This is still not enough; they are

still adding dams on this river system. The river is very significant because it travels through both Canada and the United States. The river starts from Columbia Lake, located in southeast British Columbia and ends up as part of the Washington and Oregon State border, before draining into the Pacific Ocean through a wide estuary west of Portland Oregon. The United States of America could not effectively generate enough electricity, and thus the Columbia River Treaty was born. The treaty was a cooperative effort of both the Canadian and the American governments to effectively harness, and share the power generated by the Columbia River system. The Columbia River Treaty was a cause of great concern for the federal government and the people of British Columbia. The treaty, for

which negotiations were started in 1932, was finally signed in Washington D.C. in 1961. The Premier of British Columbia, Premier Bennett, believed Canada had negotiated an exceptionally lucrative deal with the United States in regards to the sale of hydroelectric power. He believed the other benefits, such as flood control, and economic development that would result from the availability of this new power, would be of even greater worth for Canada. This view point is shared by, John Krutilla, who was well respected in the hydroelectric field, and who was retained by the United States Resources’ for the Future Corporation. He wrote a book called The Columbia River Treaty wherein, he analyzed the treaty in terms of dollars and cents. He concluded that this treaty was huge gain

for Canada and that there were substantial losses to the United States, which he estimated to be between $250,000,000.00 and $375,000,000.00. However, he neglected to account for the social and economic loss Canada suffered by the flooding of Arrow Lake Valley. He also did not consider the benefit gained by the United States that resulted in flood control and ability of the United States to divert 5 MAF (One Million Acre Feet) of water annually, from Libby’s pool alone, to American gardens where it may have been worth as much as $100.00 foot/acre. But the farmers and business people who lived in the Arrow Lakes Valley became acutely aware that their communities were to be flooded. Many people realized this would be detrimental to the fishing industry, as well as the logging