The 2017 RRNW Symposium will feature five presentations on the future of Columbia River and the ecosystem services it provides. Our invited speakers and the topics to be addressed are as follows:
Putting fish back in the rivers (and much more…)
Vice President, Environment, Fish and Wildlife
Bonneville Power Administration
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) manages the largest fish and wildlife protection program in the nation. We are adding fish to the rivers – we can quantify that – and so much more. In this presentation, BPA Vice President of Environment, Fish and Wildlife Lorri Bodi will discuss how and why BPA considers protection of fish and wildlife as one of its top priorities, including the legal drivers and a commitment to environmental stewardship. BPA emphasizes the achievement of biological objectives and encourages projects with an ecosystem-based approach, so both fish and wildlife benefit from habitat protection and improvement projects.
The electric ratepayers of the Northwest fund BPA’s program, which provides mitigation for the effect of the dams. At the dams, performance standards are 96 percent passage for spring-migrating fish, and 93 percent passage for summer-migrating fish. Federal agencies are on track to meet or exceed these objectives by improving the ability of fish to travel through the dams at the surface of the water (like a natural river), and by tailoring spill at each dam for the most effective passage.
Because the federal dams still have cumulative effects, even after improved passage, BPA and other federal agencies also implement habitat and hatchery enhancements. We are restoring fish and wildlife habitat in tributaries of the mainstem river and the estuary. For example, we have protected almost 400,000 acre-feet of water in the tributaries, more than 400 miles of streams, and almost 8,000 acres of estuarine habitat. We are using hatcheries to add fish to the river, as well as protect genetics of wild fish. We are working to reduce the numbers of fish that are eaten by birds, other fish, and marine mammals. We implement these programs through partnerships with tribes, states, other federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations.
BPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation have also initiated a new, comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS) on the effects, alternatives and tradeoffs associated with operations of the federal dams. Preparation of the Columbia River System Operations (CRSO) EIS started in fall of 2016, with the opening of a scoping process to hear from the public on what the agencies should evaluate – taking a fresh look at system operations such as flood control, power, irrigation, fish and wildlife, and navigation. The new CRSO EIS process has so far included more than 16 public meetings throughout the region, from Missoula to Portland, plus two webinars. The EIS process is expected to take approximately five years (for more information, please go to www.crso.info).
F Lorraine Bodi is Vice President for Environment, Fish and Wildlife at BPA, responsible for environmental stewardship and Fish and wildlife enhancements for BPA’s Transmission and Power businesses. Lorri came to BPA in 1998 as a Senior Policy Advisor for Fish and Wildlife and helped shape BPA’s plans for rebuilding salmon and steelhead runs affected by the federal dams. She is an attorney with over 30 years’ experience in natural resources law, fisheries, and hydroelectric proceedings. Before coming to BPA, Ms. Bodi was co-Director of the Northwest Office of American Rivers, a national conservation group. She has also been an attorney for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Bodi received her J.D. with honors from the George Washington University.
The Columbia River in the 21st century:
Projections of climate change impacts on the hydrology of the Columbia River
Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Washington
Anthropogenic climate change has already begun to impact the hydrologic cycle in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Of particular note is the sensitivity of snow and streamflow in the Columbia River Basin to changes in temperature and precipitation. Changes in streamflow timing and volume have implications for many stakeholders in the basin ranging from those interested in hydropower or flood control to managers of irrigation and fish habitat.
In 2013, the University of Washington and Oregon State University began a three-year project to evaluate climate change impacts in the Columbia River Basin. The project was co-funded and coordinated by the River Management Joint Operating Committee (RMJOC), consisting of the Bonneville Power Administration, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Bureau of Reclamation and included a host of stakeholders in the region. Results from the study will be available for download from the University of Washington.
The new study includes an update to earlier climate change studies in the basin and a more in-depth analysis of the effect of methodological choices on the range of hydrologic projections under climate change. In this presentation I will provide a general background to the study design, highlight projected changes in the hydrology of the Columbia River Basin and will discuss the spread in the projections. Finally I will discuss the implications for follow-up impact studies in the Columbia River Basin.
Bart Nijssen is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington (UW), where he heads the UW Hydro | Computational Hydrology group. After he completed his PhD at the UW in 2000, he worked at the University of Arizona and in the private sector, before returning to the UW in 2011. His research group builds tools to simulate and investigate the terrestrial hydrological cycle and uses these tools for a wide range of hydrologic research projects. He and his group investigate the effects of climate change on the hydrologic cycle, perform near real-time monitoring and forecasting studies for drought and streamflow, simulate the interactions between the various components of the climate system in coupled regional climate models, develop and analyze large datasets, and along the way write a lot of code that they are happy to share with others.
Columbia River and the Columbia River Treaty
University of Idaho College of Law
The United States and Canada have cooperatively shared the management of the Columbia River since the Columbia River Treaty concluded in 1961 and entered into force in 1964. Under the Treaty, the river is jointly operated by the two countries for hydropower and flood control and is the largest producer of hydropower in the western hemisphere. The cooperative management of the Columbia River has led to substantial benefits to both parties including fueling the integration and growth of the Pacific Northwest as an economic region. Simultaneously, the optimization of river development for two primary purposes and secondary purposes of irrigation and navigation has resulted in the degradation and loss of a broad range of ecosystem services.
The Treaty is under review. Under international law, the U.S. and Canada may agree to modify or terminate the Treaty at any time and the Treaty has no fixed term. What has led to review is the Treaty provision allowing either Party to unilaterally terminate the Treaty in 2024 or later provided that it gives at least ten years notice. Neither party has exercised this option, but both have undertaken extensive review and public engagement on the future of the Columbia River. The scope of changes in the region and globally have led to broad review and a call for modernization of the Treaty and the management of the Columbia River. This talk will focus on three aspects of this unique moment in time that has opened a window of opportunity for rethinking the management, infrastructure and governance of the Columbia River.
First, what has changed since 1964 that might lead the United States and Canada to modernize the Treaty despite its success in facilitating cooperative management and shared benefits from hydropower and flood control? Scholarship and the review processes indicate that changes have and continue to occur in: (1) energy markets; (2) climate; (3) the status of Native American tribes and First Nations in the basin in relation to the water resource; (4) demand and legal requirements for public input to natural resource management decisions; and (5) the health of, and public values placed on, the Columbia River ecosystem which has led to the listing of seven salmon and four steelhead populations under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In considering the next phase of international river governance, the degree of uncertainty surrounding these drivers of change and the change in distribution of power to decide the future of the Columbia River that is implied, complicates efforts to move forward while simultaneously providing opportunity for a new approach.
Second, the review processes and their results will shape the starting point for any negotiation between the United States and Canada. After extensive sovereign input and public comment, the U.S. Regional Review was transmitted to the Department of State in December of 2013. The review called for negotiation of a modernized treaty with clarification of flood control measures, re-balancing of hydropower benefits, elevation of ecosystem function to a third prong of the Treaty, and a broader voice in Treaty implementation. In March, 2014, the Provincial government of British Columbia announced its position seeking modification within the existing framework. As of the time of this writing, July 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of State has appointed a lead negotiator and Prime Minister Trudeau has announced the intent of Canada to move forward.
Third, the opportunity for reconciliation of a functioning ecosystem with a highly developed river system relied on by many – Richard White’s “Organic Machine” – and of indigenous people with the dominant society as Tribes and First Nations seek their place in shared governance of the river. Reconciliation in this context captures the notion that: (1) in highly developed water systems neither restoration to “natural” conditions nor sustainability of current systems as climate change unfolds are options; and (2) the bringing together of indigenous and non-indigenous governments and communities is not about erasing past wrongs, but about healing and moving forward in mutual respect and shared governance. The Basin must envision and design new solutions that facilitate adaptation and build ecosystem function and resilience while recognizing humans as part of the system. Society must develop the technology and understanding to learn from nature to re-engineer its aging water infrastructure both to serve human needs and enhance ecosystem resilience. Society must recognize the rightful place of indigenous peoples in shared management of the Columbia River Basin.
The presenter has had the pleasure to observe as an academic, serve as an educator, and facilitate some of the dialogue that has taken place in the Columbia River Basin between 2009 and 2016. In the past six years, the people of the Columbia River Basin have not only witnessed, but have engineered a paradigm shift in how the value and management of the Columbia River and the role of the public in its future is viewed. On a small scale, this presentation, and on a large-scale, the seemingly bright future of the Basin is a tribute to their hard work and tenacity. It has been a privilege to be an observer. The future of the Treaty itself is yet to be determined, but there is no doubt the pathway forward has been transformed.
Barbara is Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty with the University of Idaho College of Law. Currently she is also serving as the Interim Director of the Institute for Waters of the West. Her teaching and research expertise is in water law, the law-science interface and interdisciplinary research methods. In her outreach and engagement she serves as an expert on western water law and its reform in the face of extended drought and climate change, the Columbia River Treaty and on the process of Native American and federal water settlement. Barbara is a co-PI on the UI Water Resources IGERT focused on adaptation to climate change. She is co-chair of the Adaptive Water Governance project made possible through support from the NSF funded National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC. She spent spring 2015 as the Goyder Institute Visiting Professor in Public Sector Policy and Management at Flinders University researching adaptive water governance and water law in South Australia.
The Role of the International Joint Commission in
helping Canada and U.S. Resolve Transboundary Issues
International Joint Commission
My presentation will focus on the following areas: a short history that led up to the negotiations of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty (BWT); how the International Joint Commission (IJC) works to resolve transboundary issues; describe a number of issues that we are or have addressed that could benefit folks in the Columbia River Basin; and end with describing our involvement with the 1964 Columbia River Treaty (CRT).
The history of the BWT dates back to the early 20th century. A controversial decision in 1903 where Great Britain favored the U.S. over Canada’s desire to have an ocean port to the Yukon, lead to a different outcome with the negotiations of the BWT. The BWT is very progressive for its time and it treats the U.S. and Canada as equal partners. Under the Treaty, the IJC is created with 6 Commissioners, three from the U.S. and 3 from Canada. The US Commissioners are appointed by the President and Canadian Commissioners are appointed by the Prime Minister. The Commissioners do not represent their national governments; but are required to take an oath “to faithfully implement the BWT in an impartial manner”. Commissioners are to be objective and have no political agendas. The IJC has addressed many issues across our entire border from the St. Croix, located between New Brunswick and Maine to the Skagit River, located between British Columbia and the State of Washington.
The long-term vision of the Commission is: “Healthy shared waters for present and future generations”. Two of our mission statements include: Assisting our federal governments to prevent and resolve disputes by pursuing the common good as an independent and objective advisor; and, second, to alert governments to emerging issues of concern. Our mandate is broader under the 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality (GLWQ) Agreement that was more recently amended in 2012. In the Great Lakes, the IJC is responsible for assessing how well the federal governments are meeting their requirements under the GLWQ Agreement. One program the Commission uses to help conduct its mission is the International Watershed Initiative (IWI). The aim of the program or IWI is to help the IJC assist governments in addressing issues in trans-boundary watersheds. The underlying premise is that most water resources and environmental problems can be anticipated, prevented or resolved at the local level before developing into international issues.
The IJC has a very talented technical staff located in Washington DC, Ottawa and Windsor Ontario. In addition, the Commission uses the expertise of 18 binational technical boards that includes representation from the Canadian and U.S. governments, provinces, states, academia, water users and interests, Tribes and NGOs. Our focus is to help governments prevent and resolve disputes. We work in an impartial manner; seek consensus on decisions; use science as our foundation for making recommendations after considering all interest in our deliberations. For example, through the IWI, the Commissions’ boards can use these principles and receive funding for projects they want to conduct within their mandates to assist in preventing and resolving disputes at the local level.
I will also describe our Decision Support Model that brings science and people together to find viable solutions to issues and how this approach could benefit the Columbia River Basin. Recently, we used this approach in our proposed Lake Superior and Lake Ontario Orders. Lastly, I will talk about IJC’s involvement in the Columbia River Basin. In 1940, the governments applied to the IJC for approval to construct and operated Grand Coulee Dam and reservoir, and the IJC gave its approval in 1941. In 1944, the governments than asked the IJC for advice on the development of the waters in the Columbia River basin with a focus on additional flood control and power production. As a follow-up in 1959, the governments requested the IJC to recommend principles for the apportionment of downstream benefits primarily with respect to power generations and flood control. The IJC technical information and principles provide the foundation for governments to negotiate the 1964 CRT.
Rich Moy was appointed as a Commissioner to the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission (IJC) by President Barack Obama, effective July 11, 2011 and is in his 6th year on the Commission. Prior to joining the IJC, Mr. Moy worked as a land and water consultant. He was also a Senior Fellow at the Center of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana. For 27 years, Mr. Moy focused on collaborative, strategic and science-based approaches to water policy, management and planning, Native American water rights, and trans-boundary and regional water and land issues for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. He served as a member and chair of the 23-member Flathead Basin Commission, which has a statutory duty to protect water quality and the environment of Flathead Lake. Previous work included directing Montana’s involvement in the High Plains Research Experiment for four years and working as a park ranger and ecologist in Glacier National Park.
Sockeye Salmon Restoration in the Okanagan Watershed:
In the Salmon Opera, It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings.
Research Scientist and Head, Salmon in Regional ecosystems Program
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch
A multi-decadal decline of Okanagan sockeye salmon culminated in fewer than 10,000 adult returns in 4 of 6 years from 1994-1999. Risk assessments have generally supported the view of a decline driven by cumulative, anthropogenic degradation of freshwater habitat in the Columbia basin. However, record returns averaging more than 200,000 adults from 2008-2016 indicate surprising resilience. Review of recent stock management and restoration efforts focused on Okanagan sockeye within a historic context has enabled us to identify the main factors associated with this spectacular increase. Our results indicate that a combination of intentional management actions and fortuitous events have acted cumulatively to enable restoration of Okanagan sockeye to levels exceeding their historic maxima. The actions and events involved include: rejection of historic escapement objectives that underutilized the carrying capacity of spawning (Okanagan River) and rearing environments (Osoyoos Lake); development and deployment of a decision support system to facilitate “fish friendly” water storage and release decisions influencing losses of sockeye eggs or fry to density-independent events (Okanagan Lake and River); flood-induced improvements in incubation gravel quality; a small contribution (<10% of total production) from hatchery-fry reintroductions into Skaha Lake; improvements in juvenile fish-passage in the Columbia River and a coincidental return to survival-favourable conditions for southern sockeye stocks in coastal marine waters (California Current System in coastal waters of Washington State and British Columbia).
Successful restoration of Okanagan sockeye salmon within the Columbia basin has required much more than just good luck. The complex life history and ecological requirements of anadromous salmon are played out on a stage spanning local, regional, national and international jurisdictions within complex freshwater and marine ecosystems. Consequently success has required the development of an ecosystem-based sustainability strategy that incorporates a broadly shared vision dealing with human and natural system impacts on Okanagan sockeye salmon from local (Okanagan valley) to global (North Pacific Ocean) scales. Although still a work in progress, the Okanagan sockeye initiative has demonstrated the value of developing shared governance of effective aquatic ecosystem-based management characterized by: elevated levels of engagement, cooperation and collaboration among “responsible” parties along with public involvement to support a common cause; creation of new knowledge of complex cause-and-effect ecological, economic and cultural associations; creation of new, information-based, resource management tools such as decision support systems and models for operational use. Science-based collaborative work for the restoration of Okanagan sockeye and, where necessary, their associated ecosystems, may serve as an example to aspire to more broadly with respect to recent suggestions to incorporate the maintenance of ecosystem services, in addition to power generation and flood control, as a third principle to inform renewal of a future Canada-U.S. Columbia River Treaty.
Dr. Hyatt is a research scientist at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Pacific Biological Station (PBS) in Nanaimo, B.C. He has worked as a teacher (Okanagan University College 1976-1978), environmental consultant (1978-1980) and fisheries scientist (DFO 1981-present). He heads the Salmon in Regional Ecosystems Program and his current research interests are focused on: (1) the status of salmon populations in Canada’s Pacific Region, (2) climate effects on salmon in freshwater and marine ecosystems, and (3) development of decision support systems to improve fisheries management.
Dr. Hyatt has held adjunct faculty appointments at several universities and has recently served as a science advisor and manager for fisheries climate change programs in two federal agencies. Kim’s involvement with Columbia River salmon issues originates from his roles as the chief architect of the award winning, Okanagan Fish-and-Water Management Tools (FWMT) decision support system and as DFO’s principal science advisor on Columbia River salmon of Canadian origin.