Title

Collaboration and the Columbia River Treaty Review Process

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The Columbia River Treaty governs hydroelectric power generation and flood risk management in the Columbia River basin. Signed in 1964 by Canada and the United States, the treaty is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Entity (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration) in order to make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of State in 2014 as to potential continuation, termination, or modification of the Treaty in 2024. In part because the treaty was enacted with no consideration of local or environmental concerns, the U.S. Entity has implemented a Sovereign Review Team (SRT) process to develop a recommendation by working with regional stakeholders and experts. According to the SRT website, “The Columbia River Treaty 2014/2024 Review will enable the U.S. Entity to make an informed recommendation, in collaboration with the regional sovereigns and stakeholders [...] The U.S. Entity will ensure an open, collaborative and regionwide engagement process to hear all interests in the Pacific Northwest.”

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the extent to which the U.S. Entity has been successful in fostering a collaborative process. Primary data for this study come from the Panel Discussion summaries published on the SRT website. Using a qualitative content analysis method to identify dominant themes, a frequency count was constructed for each topic addressed in these SRT forums. In addition, the documents provide affiliations for each speaker, allowing for an analysis of representation by stakeholder groups. Finally, the location and timing of SRT outreach events can give an impression of the accessibility of treaty information for the general public. Content analysis results indicate strong interest among participants in both ensuring a collaborative SRT process and in taking environmental concerns seriously. This research provides a basis for evaluating the importance of stakeholder engagement in regional planning efforts.

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Collaboration and the Columbia River Treaty Review Process

UC 330

The Columbia River Treaty governs hydroelectric power generation and flood risk management in the Columbia River basin. Signed in 1964 by Canada and the United States, the treaty is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Entity (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration) in order to make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of State in 2014 as to potential continuation, termination, or modification of the Treaty in 2024. In part because the treaty was enacted with no consideration of local or environmental concerns, the U.S. Entity has implemented a Sovereign Review Team (SRT) process to develop a recommendation by working with regional stakeholders and experts. According to the SRT website, “The Columbia River Treaty 2014/2024 Review will enable the U.S. Entity to make an informed recommendation, in collaboration with the regional sovereigns and stakeholders [...] The U.S. Entity will ensure an open, collaborative and regionwide engagement process to hear all interests in the Pacific Northwest.”

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the extent to which the U.S. Entity has been successful in fostering a collaborative process. Primary data for this study come from the Panel Discussion summaries published on the SRT website. Using a qualitative content analysis method to identify dominant themes, a frequency count was constructed for each topic addressed in these SRT forums. In addition, the documents provide affiliations for each speaker, allowing for an analysis of representation by stakeholder groups. Finally, the location and timing of SRT outreach events can give an impression of the accessibility of treaty information for the general public. Content analysis results indicate strong interest among participants in both ensuring a collaborative SRT process and in taking environmental concerns seriously. This research provides a basis for evaluating the importance of stakeholder engagement in regional planning efforts.