Canada and the U.S. were facing two major challenges in the Columbia Basin after the Second World War.
First, the "untamed" Columbia River was causing periodic and sometimes devastating flooding.
Second, an upswing in the economy and population increased the need for additional energy sources.
To solve these challenges, water needed to be stored in the upper Columbia Basin. The Columbia River Treaty was signed by the U.S. and Canada on January 17, 1961. It was ratified by the U.S. in 1961 and by Canada in 1964. Instruments of ratification covering the Treaty and Protocol were exchanged on September 16, 1964.
The Treaty’s two purposes are to coordinate flood control, and optimize electrical energy production in the Columbia River Basin in the United States and Canada.
Under the treaty, Canada agreed to build three storage dams Keenleyside, Duncan and Mica - in the Canadian Columbia Basin. A fourth dam, Libby Dam, was built in the U.S., with its reservoir reaching into British Columbia.