College of Law

Administration Office: 208-885-2255
Dean’s Office: 208-885-4977
fax: 208-885-5709
Menard 101
711 S. Rayburn Drive

Mailing Address:
College of Law
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321


phone: 208-364-4074
fax: 208-334-2176
322 E. Front St., Suite 590
Boise, ID 83702

2009 Natural Resources & Environmental Law Symposium

 Transboundary River Governance in the Face of Uncertainty: The Columbia River Treaty, 2014

Coeur d'Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
April 2-4, 2009

In collaboration with:

  • University of Idaho Waters of the West
  • Oregon State University
  • Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University
  • University of Montana
  • University of British Columbia

The first University of Idaho College of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Symposium focused on the issues of transboundary water governance in the face of uncertainty. To ground discussion in reality, the natural laboratory of the Columbia Basin, shared by the United States and Canada, served as the focal point for discussion. Approximately thirty researchers representing multiple disciplines and familiar with a variety of international water basins gathered in the Pacific Northwest to share their knowledge and collectively applied it to the Columbia Basin.

Water basins provide an ideal setting to study transboudary resources because political boundaries are drawn without consideration of river basin boundaries. The Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database shows that 263 surface water resources cross international boundaries. These water resources serve 40% of the global population (Wolf et. al. 1999). Over the next decade, several contributing factors could trigger rapid change and social and economic instability in these international watersheds, placing greater demands on competing water interests. These contributing factors include: climate change; continued regional population growth; a threatened and deteriorating ecosytem; demand for non-fossil fuel energy; and deteriorating infrastructure. These factors challenge traditional approaches to governance of transboundary water resources: approaches that rely on the certainty that historic data concerning water supply, demand and ecosystem health can be used to predict the future.

The Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance was formed following the symposium to develop a research program to inform, guide and shape decision making, and even influence policy in decisions concerning the Columbia River Treaty. The Consortium consists of:

  • Barbara Cosens, University of Idaho College of Law and Waters of the West Program
  • Aaron Wolf and Lynette de Silva, Oregon State University
  • Craig Thomas, University of Washington
  • Matthew McKinney, University of Montana
  • Richard Paisley, University of British Columbia