Columbia River Treaty: Environmental Impact

by Nicholas A. Dodge, Chf.; Water Management Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engrs., North Pacific Div., Engrg. Div., Portland, Oreg. 97208,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 3, Pg. 309-320

Document Type: Journal Paper


Several major environmental impacts results from implementation of the Columbia River Treaty. The first one stems from the conservation of hydroelectric resources through coordinated planning and operation between 16 Pacific Northwest utilities and the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority. The regional power system meets the load with a minimum of resources and cost to the rate payer. This has been spin-off benefits in terms of minimizing fuel consumption and air pollution associated with thermal-electric plants. Additional socioeconomic benefit is derived from the ability of treaty projects to control major floods and increase human safety. Although the anadromous fishery of the Columbia River has sustained setbacks caused by numerous factors, such as ocean over-fishing, undesirable forest and agricultural practices, and elimination of headwater habitat dams on the Columbia River are perceived by many as the major contributor to the decline. Added mitigation measures are now focused on construction and operation of bypass facilities and increasing flows to shorten the out-migration times to the ocean. To assure such flows, a significant reregulation strategy will be required. The solution to this problem is still unresolved but may require replacement of hydropower resources by expensive fossil-fueled thermal plants.

Subject Headings: Hydro power | International waters | Rivers and streams | Environmental issues | Air pollution | Flow measurement | Thermal effects | Electric power | Pacific Northwest | United States | British Columbia | Canada

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