I TAKE pleasure today in signing H.R. 10503, the Water Resources Development Act of 1974. This bill is evidence of the legislation that can be achieved when the executive and legislative branches work together in a spirit of compromise.
The projects authorized in this bill-which will cost more than $1 billion-have been authorized for advanced engineering and design only. Under this new two-stage authorization system, both the President and the Congress will have another opportunity to review each of these projects on their merits before they become eligible for construction appropriations.
I have also noted that the Congressional debate on this bill indicates that the executive agencies will be free to use realistic discount rates for benefit-cost determinations in their processes of selecting projects for authorization or construction even though this bill prevents them from doing so in the initial formulation of the projects. The Congress in this bill has asked me to present recommendations on such critical policy issues in the water resources field as cost-sharing and project evaluation criteria, including discount rates. I am gratified that the Congress now shares my view of the importance of these problems, and I will continue to work in a spirit of receptiveness to update some of what I consider to be anachronistic policies concerning water projects.
I regret to note that despite these encouraging new policy directions, this bill continues to present some of the problems which were contained in S. 4018 which I pocket-vetoed in October of 1972. It continues to authorize some projects that I believe to be economically unjustified, and it substitutes Federal payments for costs that in some cases should be borne directly by the benefiting communities. On balance, however, the bill represents a step forward in our efforts to modernize water resource development, and I look forward to continuing a constructive dialog with the Congress on these policies.