Fletcher column prompts responses from across the province

Dear editor,

Re: U.S. ripping us off on water (Jan. 13)

I am a scholar of Columbia River Treaty history and live in the region where all the losses occurred. My own upcoming book about the treaty, A River Captured, represents a decade of research and travel across the Columbia Basin on both sides of the boundary. This is a big, complex story that deserves lots of attention.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that the U.S. was not necessarily the Big Bad Wolf we would like to make them out to be.

In fact, the U.S. formally asked Canada in the 1930s if this country had an interest in those salmon that would be blocked and it was Canada that said no. Had Canada’s response been different, we might have gotten that fish ladder and saved our unique Interior salmon runs.

There was considerable controversy over the treaty between its signing in 1961 and its ratification by Canada in 1964. During that time, the agreement was on the edge of being tossed out, with then-prime minister Lester Pearson actively promoting the negotiation of a new treaty during his 1963 election campaign.

The U.S., as a result of their own shifting water policies, would have very likely cooperated with changing or scrapping that treaty. It was Canada’s federal bureaucrats who went into high gear to justify what had been signed and made sure it went through.

There is no question in my mind that Canada and B.C.’s government agencies played a very significant role in making the mess we got in 1964.

Eileen Delehanty Pearkes

Nelson

B.C. should fire warning shot

Dear editor,

Re: U.S. ripping us off on water (Jan. 13)

This is an issue all of B.C. should have the same view on and an extremely important one at that. Energy Minister Bill Bennett should have given the 10-year notice to exit the agreement.

I don’t think we could ever actually deny the U.S. access to our water, as it would ultimately lead to an invasion. We should however fire the warning shot that we want a fair dollar for the resource.

Having just flown back from Puerto Vallarta, I saw nothing but desert out my window for almost the entire trip until we got into Washington state. Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam, is so low on water that the dam is almost useless and California is screaming for more to feed the crops.

We pay top dollar for the produce from there and yet give them the water for pretty much free. It’s totally crazy and will only get worse. The time to act is now.

Thanks for highlighting this ridiculous situation that I’ve ranted on about for decades to mostly deaf ears.

Matt Taylor

Saanich

Radiation part of Columbia legacy

 

 

Dear editor,

Re: U.S. ripping us off on water (Jan. 13)

Not mentioned in Tom Fletcher’s article is the ongoing leaching of radioactive waste from the Hanford nuclear weapons site into the Columbia River, which can drift north into B.C. fish-bearing waters. This is public knowledge in the U.S., but not well known to the B.C. public.

Hanford is the most contaminated site in the U.S. and the most expensive toxic site to clean up, even more so than Love Canal.

It was the Second World War’s largest secret site for concentrating radioactive material for the Hiroshima bomb.

PBS had a recent program on how sick the workers are still getting due to exposure while cleaning up this site.

In 1995, some of the 45,000 scientists and engineers Ottawa laid off were relocated to Canadian universities as adjunct and associate professors. However, the directorates, such as Inland Waters from 1970 to 1990, which oversaw national standards for water quality and hydrology, were closed.

So the fragmented remains of Canadian research survive at our universities and the ‘national’ health and safety standards for humans, fish, animals, etc. downloaded or extinguished since 1995, especially since 2001. Hanford is the worst case for our salmon, animals and humans.

After 70 years, Hanford is still affecting Pacific Northwest fish regardless of Columbia’s hydrology.

The Columbia River Treaty is not just about the lost economic opportunity costs.

Susan Rowntree

Victoria

 

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