In my third year of study at Quest University Canada, my academic mentor, Dr. Richard Wildman, asked me if I wanted to do a research project with him on the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. I said yes, and we applied successfully for a fellowship grant. I then spent three months studying the topic full-time and we continued the research part-time afterwards. Nearly two years later, in September 2018, an article based on our research was published in the highly selective academic journal, Water International. The article — Institutional factors affecting fish passage in the Columbia River Treaty renegotiation — characterizes the relevant context of the CRT renegotiation and identifies institutional factors which will affect the outcome as it pertains to the potential restoration of salmon to the upper watershed. 

After publishing our research, in October 2018, I wrote an Op-Ed article with the Evidence Network on the exclusion of Indigenous nations from the CRT renegotiation and what it might mean for salmon restoration. It has been published in English and French in more than 30 news outlets across Canada including The Hill Times of Ottawa, Policy Options (The Institute for Research and Public Policy), and Vancouver's The Province, as well as nearly every local newspaper in the Canadian portion of the Basin.

In April 2019, the Canadian government reversed its decision and granted official observer status to the Syilx Okanagan, Secwepemc, and Ktunaxa First Nations in the CRT renegotiation. Following this news, I wrote an Op-Ed arguing that the U.S. has an ethical responsability to follow Canada’s lead and do the same for Indigenous Nations on the south side of the watershed. That Op-Ed was first published in the Seattle Times on May 20th and has since been republished by several other relevant outlets in the U.S. and Canada.

Academic article abstract:

The USA and Canada have begun renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty, which is an international model for transboundary water governance. This article identifies six Institutional Factors that will affect negotiations pertaining to fish passage during the renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty: geographic advantage, issue linkage, a basin commission, the duration of agreements, negotiating autonomy, and side payments. These factors and the methods used to determine them can be applied to other transboundary river basins where basin states have a history of transboundary resource governance. This analysis also serves as a policy-relevant resource for Columbia River Treaty negotiators and stakeholders.

To find the web link for this article: Click here.
To download a full text copy of this article (12 pages long): Click here.
To download a short document containing key excerpts: Click here.

To cite this article:

Graeme A. Lee Rowlands & Richard A. Wildman (2018): Institutional factors affecting fish passage in the Columbia River Treaty renegotiation, Water International, DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2018.1511200

Top photo by Pat Morrow.