Elk-Kootenay Water Pollution Joint Statement

Elk-Kootenay Water Pollution Joint Statement

The following is the Joint Statement from the Ambassador of Canada to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, and the Ambassador of the United States to Canada, David L. Cohen, on the Elk-Kootenay Water Pollution.

“In furtherance of the Joint Statement issued by Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden on March 24, 2023, Canada and the United States have reached an understanding on next steps to further bilateral cooperation to reduce and mitigate the impacts of water pollution in the Elk-Kootenay watershed.

Our two countries are committed to a collaborative, science and Indigenous knowledge based, action-oriented path forward.

The key elements of this understanding are as follows:

1. Canada and the United States, in partnership with Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples, and in a manner consistent with the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, have asked the International Joint Commission (IJC), through a joint reference, to assist federal and Indigenous governments, British Columbia, Idaho and Montana, to establish a formal governance structure by June 30, 2024, allowing for co-development of options for future action.

2. Considering the particular complexity of pollution concerns in this watershed, Canada and the United States have also asked the IJC to establish a two-year Study Board to convene experts and knowledge holders to conduct transparent and coordinated transboundary data and knowledge sharing.

These actions respond to partner interests in:

1. Gaining a common understanding of pollutants of concern within the Elk-Kootenay watershed;

2. Establishing mechanisms supporting transboundary data, information, and Indigenous knowledge sharing, science and monitoring, assessments of aquatic ecosystem health, and transparent progress reporting; and

3. Understanding and taking steps to reduce and mitigate the impacts of pollution.

Complementing additional efforts currently underway throughout the Elk-Kootenay watershed, and together with the IJC and our partners in the region, Canada and the United States welcome the opportunity to further our collaboration on this important work.”