Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy


Nigel Bankes


This article examines the flood control rules established by the Columbia River Treaty and Protocol between Canada and the United States before and after 2024. The flood control operations change automatically in 2024. Part I discusses the flooding risks posed by the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers. Part II offers an account of the general international law pertaining to flood protection and in particular the duties that one basin state may owe to another. This section draws on the work of the International Law Commission which informed the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. Part III outlines some of the background to the negotiation of the flood control provisions of the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) referring in particular to the work of the International Joint Commission (IJC) established by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. Part IV describes the flood control provisions of the Treaty as qualified by the terms of the Protocol to the Treaty including both assured flood control and on-call flood control. The assured flood control provisions expire in 2024. Flood control is principally provided by the construction of three treaty dams in Canada (Arrow/Keenleyside, Mica and Duncan) and the operation of those dams in accordance with a flood control operating plan (FCOP). The appendix contains a more detailed account of the FCOP and variation of the FCOP known as VARQ FC.

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