2012 AWRA Washington State Conference

The Columbia River, Basin and Treaty

September 11-13 in Ellensburg, WA

The Columbia River and its associated basin are of vital importance to the State of Washington and to the Pacific Northwest region as a whole. The Basin occupies more than 70 percent of the state and irrigates agriculture valued at over $1.5 Billion per year. The river is the fourth largest in North America, can generate more than 24,000 megawatts of hydropower along the main stem, transports 17 million tons of freight per year, is a link to over 10,000 miles of stream available to salmon and steelhead, and is a treasured cultural resource. In addition to the State of Washington, the Basin extends into six other U.S. states, and British Columbia. 

The Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada in effect since 1964 may be drastically altered as early as 2024 with notice to do so permitted as early as 2014. The renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty will have dramatic impact on flood control, hydropower generation, ecological habitat, agricultural water supply, and recreational use of the Columbia River.  

In addition to changes in the treaty and operation of the river, climate change and population growth are anticipated to compound existing water use and land use stresses on basin management.  Numerous projects in the basin have been completed and are being considered in an effort to increase water reliability and instream habitat to meet the recovery goals of ESA Listed salmon and steelhead as well as the needs of water users. These projects are basin-wide.

The conference will explore these topics, provide an overview of the treaty renegotiation process, and offer perspectives from stakeholders from both inside and outside the Washington border. The multi-day conference includes an option day-long field trip to key points of interest within the basin, including Grand Coulee Dam and the Quincy Canal, and two days of stimulating presentations, discussion and networking.

On the first day of this year’s conference, September 11, 2012, conference attendees will have the option to see firsthand the region discussed at the conference. Those who chose to attend the field trip will visit the fish passage features of Grant County PUD’s Wanapum Dam. You'll then travel through a large portion of the irrigated area of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project and see many of the key features of the water delivery system, including dryland farm areas with agricultural practices that contrast with those on irrigated lands. You will visit the Grand Coulee Dam, a key dam  among the list of dams on the Columbia River that produce power, control flooding and store water for irrigation and other uses. Finally, you will have an opportunity to learn about the current and planned operations of the project during a visit with Bureau of Reclamation staff at the Ephrata Field Office. Lunch and beverages will be provided during the day long trip.

AWRA-WA is offering sponsorship opportunities for organizations that would like to demonstrate their commitment to water resources in Washington State. Each of the sponsorship levels includes recognition at the conference, on the conference materials and on our website.  Click here for more information.

Thank you to our 2012 Sponsors!






Media Sponsor


Agenda Summary
Click Here to View Full Conference Program
September 11: Field Trip
  • Waterville Plateau
  • Grand Coulee Dam
  • Banks Lake
  • Bacon Siphon and Tunnel
  • Quincy Canal and Soap Lake
  • Weber Siphon
  • Lunch included

September 12: The Columbia River Treaty

  • The CRT in Context
  • Current Treaty Operations and Expected and Potential Changes
  • Post-2024 Expectations for Tributary Headwaters Management
  • Keynote: A World Prematurely Dammed: Improving on the CRT & Other Hydrological Anachronisms
  • Fish & Wildlife Impacts of the CRT and Potential Mitigation
  • Social-Cultural Impacts of CRT and Potential Mitigation
  • Climate Change and the CRT

Breakfast, lunch and casual BBQ dinner offsite included

September 13: The Columbia River Basin

  • Fish, Agriculture, and Water Resources
  • Water and Restoration
  • Water Resource Management
  • Breakfast and lunch included


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