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Climate Change Implications for the Operation of Called Upon Flood Control in the Columbia River Basin

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Negotiated over 60 years ago and ratified in 1964, the Columbia River Treaty (CRT or "the Treaty"), is often looked to as the standard for cross-jurisdictional water management. A crucial aspect of the Treaty is the governance of water flows to minimize downstream flooding. Climate change directly impacts the hydrology of the Columbia River, which has implications for activities such as power generation and flood control management. The Treaty needs to be modernized to incorporate the effects of climate change. Current discussions between Canada and the United States over the Treaty provide an opportunity to incorporate potential impacts of climate change on measures Canada could be asked to take to reduce downstream flooding. This study looks at the effects of climate change on flood risk within the Columbia River Basin and analyzes the costs and benefits associated with the operation of a provision in the current treaty known as ‘Called Upon’ flood control. This study then presents the information that may be helpful for the Canadian Entity to frame negotiation options given the potential impacts of climate change.
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