Agencies must agree annually on water management


Capital Press

Power producers in the U.S. and Canada have agreed to provide more water flows for protected fish and power generation on the upper Columbia River in Canada.

The Bonneville Power Administration and British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority -- BC Hydro -- have signed the new Non-Treaty Storage Agreement, which extends to September 2024.

BPA spokesman Mike Hansen said the agreement is separate from ongoing discussions over the Columbia River Treaty between the U.S. and Canada. The 50-year-old hydropower and flood-control pact between the U.S. and Canada is up for discussion in 2014.

Canada has built an additional 5 million acre-feet of nontreaty water storage, Hansen said. The new agreement provides BPA access to about half.

The two agencies must agree annually how the water will be managed. If BPA has extremely dry conditions, it has unilateral access to 500,000 acre-feet of water to increase flows in the river, Hansen said.

According to BPA, the new agreement benefits threatened and endangered fish. It allows BPA to reduce the flow in the spring and increase it in the summer.

Amy Echols, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland district, said the nontreaty agreement cannot have any effect on the current treaty's operating parameters.

"They're not supposed to overlap or have any impacts on how we operate for the treaty right now," she said. "There is no relation between the two."

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