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The flood danger seems to have passed, at least for this year. Okanagan Lake has peaked. Grand Forks is drying out. A half million people in the lower Fraser Valley, who had been bracing for the worst flooding since 1948, can relax.
But things could have been worse -- much worse -- if a couple of political ploys in history had been carried through.
The difficulty, you see, is that God -- or plate tectonics, if you prefer -- didn’t design the land west of the Rocky Mountains very efficiently. Highways, railways, and lines of communication run east/west. But the valleys and rivers mostly run north/south.
Only the Fraser and Skeena river systems lie entirely within B.C. Every other major river ignores national boundaries. Especially the Columbia.
In negotiating the Columbia River Treaty, General MacNaughton brought in diversion as a bargaining chip. Unless the Americans agreed to a fair deal for Canada, MacNaughton threatened, Canada could divert the Columbia into the Fraser, leaving three U.S. states high and very dry.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: floods, Columbia River, Columbia River Treaty, McNaughton, Kootenay, Creston, Canal Flats