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Columbia River Treaty talks inching toward agreement

Negotiators working on a revised Columbia River Treaty say they are getting closer to a deal with the United States.

A news release from the province said during 19th round of talks in Portland on Oct. 12 and 13, progress was made toward an agreement-in-principle on operational and other issues.

“The teams will continue to address compensation and bilateral treaty-ecosystem provisions in the coming weeks,” the statement said.

If an agreement is reached, the province said it will consult Columbia Basin residents and First Nations to explain what is being proposed and seek feedback.

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The government has already been speaking with people since 2012 to find out what they would like in a modernized treaty.

“That input has been informing Canadian negotiating positions and proposals,” the statement said. “BC has committed that no modernized treaty will be finalized until the people of the Columbia Basin have been consulted.”

The Columbia River Treaty, signed in the 1960s, resulted in the construction of four dams for power and flood control in both countries. But it also caused the displacement of over 2,000 people in the Kootenays, the loss of agricultural land, and ecological damage, among other impacts.

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