Slide background

Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty

The U.S. and Canada need to right historic wrongs and honor the Northwest’s consensus to restore the health of the river.

Negotiations over the future of this transboundary relationship began in May 2018 and are ongoing. The final agreement must make Ecosystem Function - the health of the river - a new primary purpose and include Columbia tribes and Northwest citizens in its implementation..

Read more about the current work by the U.S. NGO Treaty Caucus and how you can take action at

In 1961, the United States and Canada signed an agreement to jointly manage a natural shared, transboundary resource – the Columbia River. A creature of its time, the Treaty excluded all values except power production and engineered flood control. As a result, Treaty dams failed to consult the public, excluded affected Tribes (U.S) and Indigenous Nations (Canada), displaced many rural communities, entrenched salmon barriers, degraded river flows and water quality, and drowned ecologically rich habitats.

Today, the Treaty continues to control river flows only for hydropower and flood control. With the ongoing renegotiation of this agreement, our two countries have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right historic wrongs and develop new tools and priorities to help us navigate the challenges we face in the 21st Century and the era of climate change. SOS is working with other NGOs and in coordination with Indigenous sovereigns to advocate for a better future.



Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty Articles

October 16, 2023

The Oregonian: LTE: Give environment a voice in modernized treaty

in Opinion
Oct. 15, 2023 Canadian and U.S. negotiators met recently in Portland to modernize the Columbia River Treaty. Portlanders should care about the outcome. The 60-year-old treaty shut out Indigenous people who had managed the earth’s richest salmon river from… Read More
August 10, 2023

Seattle Times Opinion: Modernize Columbia River Treaty to meet challenges ahead

in Opinion
Aug. 9, 2023By Joseph Bogaard and Martin Carver Negotiators representing federal, provincial and First Nation governments will gather this week in Seattle to continue efforts to modernize the Columbia River Treaty in the 18th round of negotiations. Much has… Read More
May 11, 2023

Columbia Insight: Opinion: Without a modernized Columbia River Treaty we’ll…

in Opinion
May 11, 2023By Joseph Bogaard As an agreement with Canada nears, we have a rare opportunity to improve a badly outdated treaty. President Biden can help right now Last month, the U.S. government held a listening session on the Columbia River Treaty, a… Read More
April 20, 2023

Columbia Basin Bulletin: As Expiration Date Nears, U.S., Canada Pushing To…

in News
April 20, 2023 Lead U.S. government negotiators vowed to intensify their work to conclude a new Columbia River Treaty with Canada by early summer as they held a public listening session this week. The two countries have been in negotiations for over four… Read More
April 10, 2023

Columbia Basin Bulletin: Canada, U.S. Meet For 16th Round Of Columbia River…

in News
April 7, 2023 The 16th round of Canada-U.S. negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty took place on March 22 and 23, in Washington, D.C. During this latest session, conversations between Canadian and American negotiators focused on strengthening… Read More
October 07, 2022

KUOW: Salmon advocates ask to include healthy ecosystems in Columbia River…

in News
Oct 05, 2022 By Courtney Flatt Salmon advocates want negotiators to consider salmon and the Columbia River’s ecosystem as a part of an agreement between the U.S. and Canada. The agreement, known as the Columbia River Treaty, is around 60 years old. It… Read More
October 03, 2022

Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty: Where do we go from here?

in SOS Blog
The Oct 4, 2022 webinar explores where things stand for this crucial issue and what the U.S. government needs to achieve in order to ensure a more positive, resilient and just future for the river and the communities who rely upon it. We’re pleased to share… Read More
September 20, 2022

The Capital Press: Environmental groups urge update of Columbia River Treaty

in News
By Carol Ryan Dumas Capital Press Sept. 19, 2022 Pacific Northwest groups representing conservation, clean energy, wildlife, fish and other interests are urging U.S. officials to modernize the Columbia River Treaty to avoid what they describe as an ecosystem… Read More
September 15, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 32 Pacific Northwest Groups Urge U.S. to Take Action to…

in Press Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 14, 2022 Media Contacts:Joseph Bogaard, Save Our wild Salmon Coalition,, 206-300-1003John DeVoe, WaterWatch of Oregon,, 503-295-4039 x 1 32 Pacific Northwest Groups Urge U.S. to Take… Read More
July 30, 2021

Nelson Star: Canada given top marks for Columbia River Treaty public engagement

in News
Eight American organizations are praising Canadian efforts By John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley VoiceJul. 30, 2021 The way Canada has engaged with its public on the Columbia River Treaty is getting high praise from a group of… Read More

Jul 1, 2021 - Associated Press: Northwest lawmakers seek progress on Columbia River Treaty

Jun 30, 2021 - For Immediate Release: Conservationists Urge the Biden Administration to Reinvigorate Columbia River Treaty Negotiations

Dec 12, 2020 - Canadian Broadcasting Company: Calls to terminate Columbia River Treaty spark concern after 2 years of negotiations

Jul 9, 2020 - Nelson Daily Guest Opinion: As Columbia River Treaty negotiators get serious, Basin residents need to speak up

Jul 2, 2020 - Columbia Insight: How (and why) to fix the U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty

Jul 30, 2019 - Westerly News: First Nations, governments agree to bring salmon back to Upper Columbia River

Jul 8, 2019 - HCN: Renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty, six decades later

Jun 28, 2019 - U.S. tribes are being left out of talks over the Columbia River's fate. Why? 

Jun 14, 2019 - CBB: Treaty Fishing To Begin For Summer Chinook, Sockeye; Run Forecasts Down From Last Year’s Actual Returns

May 20, 2019 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: U.S. must follow Canada and invite tribes into Columbia River Treaty negotiation

Apr 17, 2019 - Nelson Star: U.S. and Canada continue to talk Columbia River Treaty

Apr 17, 2019 - Vancouver Sun: B.C. in no big rush to conclude Columbia River Treaty talks with U.S.

Apr 17, 2019 - Thomas Reuters Foundation: Roll on, Columbia? U.S. tribes demand seat at river treaty negotiating table

Mar 18, 2019 - Lewiston Tribune: Columbia River Treaty, What's at stake during negotiation

Jul 22, 2018 - CBB: State Department To Hold Portland Town Hall On Columbia River Treaty Negotiations

Jun 28, 2018 - Vancouver Sun: Restoring the Columbia/ Water as an opportunity to rebuild our relationship with the U.S.

May 31, 2018 - Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: Good treaties make good neighbors: Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty regime

May 14, 2018 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: Columbia River treaty negotiations must include tribes, First Nations

May 10, 2018 - Spokesman Review Guest Opinion: A modern Columbia River treaty needs to treat the Columbia as one river

Apr 27, 2018 - Northwest Tribes Noticeably Absent in Columbia River Treaty Renegotiations

Mar 19, 2018 - NW News Network: After 70 Years, Salmon Could Return To Columbia River Above Grand Coulee

Jan 29, 2018 - Register Guard Guest Opinion: New treaty must address ecosystem concerns

Jan 10, 2018 - Columbia River Treaty talks offer hope for river, native peoples

Jan 10, 2018 - Canada: Columbia River Treaty a boon to the U.S., but must benefit all (Guest opinion)

Dec 17, 2017 - Associated Press in the Seattle Times: US, Canada to begin talks in 2018 on Columbia River Treaty

Dec 11, 2017 - For Immediate Release: Conservation, fishing and faith groups applaud announcement that negotiations over the Columbia River Treaty will begin in 2018 (Dec. 11, 2017)

Dec 10, 2017 - For immediate release: U.S. - Canada talks to modernize the treaty will begin in early 2018

Dec 2, 2017 - CBCNews: Indigenous groups in Alberta, N.W.T. say they've borne 'enormous costs' from B.C. dams, call for end to Site C

Oct 27, 2017 - CBB: U.S. State Department Picks New Columbia River Treaty Negotiator

Sep 28, 2017 - Seattle Times: Evening of ‘story, reflection and discussion’ about Columbia River

Aug 31, 2017 - Healing the Columbia River - Seattle event - Sept. 28

Jul 6, 2017 - For Immediate Release: The Columbia River Basin Holds Immense Natural Capital Value

Jun 22, 2017 - News Release – Northwest, British Columbia need to stand together to modernize the Columbia River Treaty

Aug 25, 2016 - Clearing Up: Northwest Delegation Sends Another Letter Urging U.S. CRT Action

Jun 25, 2016 - CBB: Cantwell, Canadian Ambassador Meet To Discuss Columbia River Treaty

May 22, 2016 - Seattle Times Editorial: Columbia River Treaty works, but needs thoughtful updating

Feb 12, 2016 - CBB: Cross-Border Coalition Urges Collaboration In Modernizing U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty

Feb 9, 2016 - For Immediate Release: Conservation, fishing and faith communities call for U.S and Canadian government collaboration as essential to modernize the Columbia River Treaty

Aug 15, 2015 - Spokesman-Review Editorial: Drought put new facet on U.S.-Canada river treaty

Aug 15, 2015 - The Spokesman-Review: B.C. residents push for more-stable reservoir levels as Columbia River Treaty is renegotiated

Jun 23, 2015 - Spokesman-Review guest opinion: Pope's letter on environment a call for change

Jun 9, 2015 - For Immediate Release: Columbia River Treaty: State Department to include Ecosystem Function in negotiating position

Jun 5, 2015 - Wenatchee World: Feds - Columbia River Treaty's future is a 'priority'

Apr 15, 2015 - AP: NW delegation demands start of Columbia River treaty talks

Jan 12, 2015 - High Country News: Salmon ground is holy ground

Nov 19, 2014 - Views from North of the Border: Treaty must consider climate change

Oct 8, 2014 - Al Jazeera America: Salmon people pray for sacred fish to return to historic home

Oct 8, 2014 - Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty: A report from our nation's capitol (Sept 2014)

Oct 7, 2014 - HCN: Watershed moment: The U.S. and Canada prepare to renegotiate the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty.

Oct 3, 2014 - CBB: Religious, Tribal Leaders Send To President, Prime Minister Declaration On Columbia River Treaty

Aug 26, 2014 - New York Times: Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost

Aug 8, 2014 - NAIADS: When Will Salmon Return to the Spokane?

Aug 8, 2014 - The Daily New: Residents, Cowlitz Tribe pray for return to natural salmon runs

Jul 28, 2014 - The Spokesman-Review: Spawning hope

Jul 28, 2014 - Spokesman Review Guest opinion: Value the water stored in Canada

Jul 2, 2014 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: Why the Columbia River Treaty matters

Jun 20, 2014 - Righting Historic Wrongs: A conference on ethics and the Columbia River Treaty.

Jun 16, 2014 - The Economist: The Columbia River Treaty: Salmon en route

May 2, 2014 - EPA weighs in on the Columbia River Treaty

Apr 23, 2014 - It’s Unanimous: Northwest delegation says “aye” to Treaty negotiations

Mar 19, 2014 - Spokesman-Review: Tribes talk salmon, dams as Columbia River Treaty renewal looms

Mar 13, 2014 - Seattle Times: Weigh all the benefits of the Columbia River Treaty

Feb 24, 2014 - The Globe and Mail: First Nations push to restore Columbia River salmon runs

Dec 11, 2013 - Tri-City Herald: Ecology, power concerns voiced in Columbia River Treaty hearing

Nov 15, 2013 - Seattle Times Guest Opinion: Consider ecosystem in U.S.-Canada negotiations for Columbia River Treaty

Nov 13, 2013 - Columbia River Treaty: November 2013 Update

Oct 29, 2013 - Spokesman-Review: U.S. utilities say Columbia River Treaty payments to Canada are excessive

Oct 28, 2013 - News Release: Northwest, British Columbia need to pull together to modernize Columbia River Treaty

Oct 27, 2013 - Spokesman-Review op/ed: Include salmon, climate provisions in river treaty

Oct 25, 2013 - Seattle Times: Roll on Columbia River Treaty

Oct 23, 2013 - AP: Canada Cries Foul on Columbia deal; U.S. plan exact opposite

Oct 23, 2013 - B.C. Releases Draft Columbia River Treaty Recommendations

Oct 16, 2013 - What Save Our Wild Salmon is doing to modernize the Columbia River Treaty

Oct 11, 2013 - Why Save Our Wild Salmon is Working to Modernize the Columbia River Treaty

Oct 10, 2013 - Toronto Globe & Mail: With water treaty to be revisited, future of Columbia River up for debate

Oct 8, 2013 - The Oregonian Editorial: The Northwest needs an overhauled Columbia River Treaty.

Sep 27, 2013 - The Spokesman Review: Treaty renewal chance to reopen salmon passages

Sep 17, 2013 - Wenatchee World: Tribes say fish protection must be part of river treaty

Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty

Aug 15, 2013 - Save Our wild Salmon submits comments on the Columbia River Treaty (2)

Aug 14, 2013 - The Globe and Mail: Revised Columbia River Treaty could restore salmon runs

Jun 20, 2013 - Renewing the Columbia River Treaty: a-once-in-our-lifetime chance

May 8, 2013 - Paul Lumley: To manage the Columbia River, we need a new treaty for a new era

May 8, 2013 - Paul Lumley: To manage the Columbia River, we need a new treaty for a new era (2)

Aug 20, 2008 - U.S. Government’s Columbia River Treaty “Working Draft” recommendation has come under fire

Share This