Columbia River

Tom Banse

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam more than a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

Those epic migrations ended in 1938 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

This week, tribes from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border along with scientists and policymakers are meeting in Spokane to figure out how Columbia River fish could be restored to their entire historical range. The idea draws passionate supporters, but has unknown costs that you might be asked to help pay.

Anna King

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it’s usually too exhausted to go downriver again. Often, the fish just dies. But the Yakama Nation is changing that circle of life.

Tribal biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can spawn again in the future. And the Yakama fish spa is seeing more success.

WSK_2005 / Flickr

Some fish in the Columbia River aren’t safe to eat, according to advisories issued Monday by health officials in Washington and Oregon.

The warnings do not apply to ocean-going fish like salmon and steelhead.

Tom Banse

Here's a little-known fact that may affect your power bill.

Every year, public utilities in the Northwest give British Columbia several hundred million dollars worth of electricity. That's to compensate Canada for managing the upper Columbia River to minimize flooding and maximize hydropower downstream.

Americans are pushing for a better deal. But the B.C. government is preparing to defend what is now considered an entitlement.

YAKIMA, Wash. – A case involving cross border pollution of the Columbia River rests in the hands of a federal judge today. A Native American tribe and the state of Washington have sued to hold a Canadian mining giant responsible for smelter waste that washed downriver from British Columbia into Washington.

This story should really start in the small town of Trail, British Columbia. It's home to a big lead and zinc smelter. The industrial complex spreads across a bluff above the Columbia River less than 10 miles upstream from the U.S. border.

YAKIMA, Wash. - Wednesday, a federal judge in Yakima will consider a long-running case about cross border pollution in the Columbia River. The Colville Tribes and the state of Washington are trying to force cleanup of heavy metals dumped in the river for nearly a hundred years by a Canadian smelter.

Lawyers for Teck Metals, the Colville Tribes and state of Washington have agreed on some basic facts. Namely, that Teck's lead and zinc smelter in Trail, British Columbia dumped millions of tons of refining waste into the Columbia River between 1896 and 1995.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Giant smoke stacks and industrial dump sites are no longer the only water quality problem on the Columbia River. A recent study has found that our day-to-day life has a major impact as well.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers looked at nine cities along the river, from Wenatchee to Longview, Wash. They detected hundreds of contaminants flowing from wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff.

Hydrologist Jennifer Morace says the toxic contaminants included things like shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

DAR56 / Wikimedia commons

Your power bill could be cheaper if the U.S. didn't send so much electricity north of the border every year. Canada lays claim to around $300 million worth of hydropower annually under the terms of a 50-year-old treaty.

In return, the Canadians manage the upper Columbia River to prevent downstream flooding and to optimize power production. The Columbia River Treaty can be renegotiated soon and there are voices on both sides of the border clamoring for a better deal.

Federal Judge James Redden this afternoon struck down the federal government’s plan for managing salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers will open for barge traffic soon. Locks were closed for several months during repairs.

Crews at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are once again pumping radioactive waste from a World War II era tank. Work had been stopped on the unstable tank buried near the Columbia River.

Supporters of a proposed interpretive center for the Hanford Reach have identified a new location for the star-crossed project. They're hoping the fresh site will breathe new life into a project that's been mired in controversy and divisiveness.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation officials say they don’t know how much radioactive contaminated soil they’re dealing with yet. What they do know is that newly discovered radioactive dirt exceeds lethal limits and is not far from the Columbia River and the city of Richland.