BPA, BC Hydro agree on new water storage treaty

PORTLAND, Ore. 4/30/12 (PennWell) -- A new long-term agreement between the Bonneville Power Administration and BC Hydro will help shape the environmental and economic health of the Northwest.

The new Non-Treaty Storage Agreement, which extends to September 2024, calls for the use of "additional reservoir flow shaping capability on the upper Columbia River in Canada to provide safer flows for protected fish" while also supporting power generation.

"It shapes the release of water to aid migrating salmon and helps produce electric power at times when it is most needed," says Steve Wright, BPA administrator.

The agreement benefits threatened and endangered fish by providing flexibility for BPA to reduce the flow of water from Mica Dam in the spring, then increasing the flow in the summer when Columbia River flows are low.

BPA says the agreement will also allow it to release up to 500,000 acre-feet of water for fish in the spring, which is in addition to the flows already provided for under the Columbia River Treaty of 1964.

That 1964 treaty calls for a 7 million acre-feet of water to be held in the Mica Dam Reservoir in addition to another 5 million acre-feet termed "non-Treaty storage". BPA and BC Hydro have coordinate use of the non-Treaty space via a series of agreements since 1977.

Both BPA and BC Hydro will benefit from increase flexibility under the new agreement, the release says, as it allows water to be moved from periods of surplus into periods of higher economic value.

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