WIT Press

Rivers And River Basin Management Issues And Concerns In The Pacific Northwest, USA


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

3 - 14




497 kb


R. L. Mahler, M. E. Barber


Over 90% of Pacific Northwest residents consider clean rivers and effective river basin management to be important issues in the Pacific Northwest. The large Columbia-Snake River Basin provides irrigation water to 5,000,000 ha, water for navigation, drinking water to more than 5,000,000 people and electricity (hydropower) to more than 8,000,000 people within Washington, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia. The purpose of this paper is to document public perceptions, attitudes, and concerns about the Columbia-Snake River Basin. Two identical statistically designed regional surveys were conducted in 2011 and 2014. Approximately 98, 98, 90, 80, 80 and 54% of the survey respondents considered the Columbia-Snake System important for providing water for mountain snowpack, power generation, agriculture, recreation, drinking, and commerce, respectively. A majority of the public also rated quality and quantity aspects of the river system as good or excellent. A majority of residents in 2011 (52.0%) and 2014 (62.1%) felt that climate change should be addressed regardless of cost. The percentage of survey respondents that believed scientific merit of climate change to be good or overwhelming increased from 47.1% in 2011 to 71.1% in 2014. The loss of mountain snowpack was the most frequently cited critical issue associated with climate change in the Columbia-Snake River Basin.


public concerns, public opinion, Columbia River Basin, water quality, water quantity