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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

July 12, 2024

E&E News: Columbia River Treaty deal would boost US energy capacity

in News
The Biden administration said its preliminary agreement with Canada signals on a 20-year treaty would include Canada giving up some of its claim on hydropower generation. By JENNIFER YACHNIN Jul 11, 2024 The United States would see an immediate bump in its… Read More
July 12, 2024

Idaho Statesman: Northwest U.S., Canada reach vital Columbia River pact. Some…

in News
Grand Coulee Dam ©Peter Marbach By Annette CaryJuly 11, 2024 Kennewick, WA The United States and Canada have reached an agreement in principle to modernize the 1964 Columbia River Treaty that has governed hydropower operations and management of flood risks on… Read More
July 12, 2024

OPB: US would keep more hydropower under agreement with Canada on treaty…

in News
Hugh Keenleyside Dam on Lower Arrow Lake © Peter Marbach By Gene Johnson (Associated Press)July 11, 2024 The U.S. and Canada said Thursday they have agreed to update a six-decade-old treaty that governs the use of one of North America’s largest rivers, the… Read More
January 31, 2024

Lewiston Morning Tribune: Dam deal’s in eye of beholder

in News
Republicans call it a secret and radical agreement, while Biden officials say it will bring stability, help fish and communities By Eric Barker of the Tribune Jan 31, 2024 Senior members of the Biden administration and Republican members of Congress painted… Read More
December 13, 2023

The Spokesman-Review: Cantwell, Risch urge Biden, Trudeau to prioritize…

in Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty
Dec. 13, 2023 By Emry Dinman The U.S. and Canada need to prioritize swiftly modernizing the nearly 60-year treaty governing the management of the Columbia River between the two countries, wrote U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and Idaho Sen. James Risch in a… Read More
November 09, 2023

CBC News: Sinixt want a say in Columbia River Treaty renegotiations

in Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty
Nov. 9, 2023 While First Nations in British Columbia's southern Interior have a seat at the renegotiation tables for the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States, the Sinixt — whose territory was directly affected by the original treaty… Read More
November 05, 2023

Global News: First Nations in B.C. seek salmon return to Columbia Basin in new…

in Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty
By Chuck Chiang November 5, 2023 First Nations groups on the Canadian side of the Columbia River Basin are adamant that salmon runs that have long been blocked by dams in the United States must be restored, potentially in a renewed river treaty between the… Read More

Oct 25, 2023 - Vancouver Sun: Drought reveals cracks in Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty as B.C. lake dries up

Oct 16, 2023 - The Oregonian: LTE: Give environment a voice in modernized treaty

Aug 10, 2023 - Seattle Times Opinion: Modernize Columbia River Treaty to meet challenges ahead

May 11, 2023 - Columbia Insight: Opinion: Without a modernized Columbia River Treaty we’ll fail to meet 21st-century challenges

Apr 20, 2023 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: As Expiration Date Nears, U.S., Canada Pushing To Finish Columbia River Treaty Negotiations By June; Uncertainty Over Future Operations A Motivator

Apr 10, 2023 - Columbia Basin Bulletin: Canada, U.S. Meet For 16th Round Of Columbia River Treaty Negotiations; Biden, Trudeau Issue Statement

Oct 7, 2022 - KUOW: Salmon advocates ask to include healthy ecosystems in Columbia River Treaty

Oct 3, 2022 - Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty: Where do we go from here?

Sep 20, 2022 - The Capital Press: Environmental groups urge update of Columbia River Treaty

Sep 15, 2022 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 32 Pacific Northwest Groups Urge U.S. to Take Action to Modernize the Columbia River Treaty to Avoid Ecosystem Collapse

Jul 30, 2021 - Nelson Star: Canada given top marks for Columbia River Treaty public engagement

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

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