March 11, 2016

Kilmer One of Seven House Members to Meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to find a solution to the dumping of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. His comments came during a meeting between the Prime Minister and seven members of the House of Representatives. Kilmer also asked Prime Minister Trudeau to move forward on negotiations over the Columbia River Treaty. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Canada’s Minister of Justice, the Minister of Trade, and the Canadian Ambassador to the United States.

“I was honored to meet Canada’s Prime Minister and discuss these issues related to our shared waters,” said Kilmer. “In Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula we take pride in our natural landscapes and waterways. Ensuring that Canada addresses the continued dumping of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca is part of being a good neighbor.”   

Recently, the local government of British Columbia decided not to move forward with a sewage treatment plant in the Victoria region at McLoughlin Point. The Victoria area, home to 300,000 people, has pumped effluent into the waters across from Washington state for years. The treatment facility was supposed to be completed by 2018 until the local Canadian government decided to table the site.

Last year Kilmer authored language in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for Fiscal year 2016 encouraging the U.S. State Department to work with Canadian counterparts on a solution to the sewage problem. Earlier in 2015, Kilmer met with members of the Canadian parliament and pressed them to look into the sewage dumping. He previously led members of the Washington state delegation in an effort to call on British Columbia Premier Christy Clark to move forward in addressing the issue, pointing out the risk to fisheries, businesses, and healthy waters. 

In the meeting, Kilmer also raised the importance of negotiations over the Columbia River Treaty to the Pacific Northwest. For the past 50 years, the United States and Canada have used the Columbia River Treaty as the blueprint for coordinating hydropower generation and flood control on the Columbia River system. 2014 was the first year both countries had the opportunity to open the treaty for renegotiation. 

“A healthy Columbia River is essential to our state,” said Kilmer. “It’s important to our economy, our environment and our culture. The discussions between our two countries need to move forward so we can address the future of the river and its critical importance to tribes, energy producers, shippers, fishermen, and those who care about our environment.  I emphasized to the Prime Minister the need to make progress on this vital issue.”

Last year, Kilmer and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) authored report language in the State and Foreign Operations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016 directing the U.S. State Department and other agencies involved to begin working directly this year with Canada on the treaty. In 2014, Kilmer joined all other lawmakers representing Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho in urging President Obama to make the future of the Columbia River Treaty a priority for his administration.