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Letter to Secretary McKay Establishing a Cabinet Committee on Water Resources Policy.

May 26, 1954

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The conservation and use which we make of the water resources of our Nation may in large measure determine our future progress and the standards of living of our citizens. If we are to continue to advance agriculturally and industrially we must make the best use of every drop of water which falls on our soil, or which can be extracted from the oceans. It is my desire that this Administration furnish effective and resourceful leadership in establishing national policies and improving the administrative organization needed to conserve and best utilize the full potential of our water resources.

During the more than a century in which the Federal Government has played a vital part in the harnessing and development of water resources, our policies have been modified repeatedly to reflect changing needs and priorities. Unfortunately, we have often relied on piecemeal or stop-gap measures. In other instances the policies covering different Federal Agencies concerned with similar water resources have been inconsistent. Accordingly, it is both fitting and necessary for us to undertake a comprehensive review looking toward modernization of Federal policies and programs in the field of water resources. We must do this with a full realization that the States, communities and private citizens are vitally concerned with the policies and actions of the Federal Government.

To meet the needs to which I have referred above, I am establishing a Cabinet Committee on Water Resources Policy. The committee shall undertake an extensive review of all aspects of water resources policy. Its recommendations for the strengthening, clarification and modernization of water policies, together with a suggested approach to the solution of organizational problems involved, are to be submitted to me not later than December 1, 1954.

I am designating you the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Water Resources Policy. The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Agriculture will serve with you on the committee as full members, and I am so notifying them by copies of this letter. The Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and the Director of the Bureau of the Budget will participate on an ad hoc basis. My Advisory Committee on Government Organization will be glad to cooperate wherever possible.

The Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, under the Chairmanship of former President Hoover, is undertaking a comprehensive study of water and power policies and organization. The Cabinet Committee should be prepared to assist in the Executive Branch consideration and review of the Hoover Commission recommendations.

Several Departments and Agencies are presently charged with responsibilities directly affecting the conservation and use of water and each such Agency is capable of making an important contribution to the reexamination and revision of water resources policy. By means of another letter, I am also approving the establishment of an Inter-Agency Committee on Water Resources as provided in an Inter-Agency Agreement proposed through the initiative of your Department. The Inter-Agency Committee on Water Resources will provide a facility for improving the coordination of existing policies, programs and activities of the participating Departments and Agencies concerned with water and land resources investigation, planning, construction, operation and maintenance. I shall expect the Inter-Agency Committee to assist the Cabinet Committee in every way possible in order to insure that the Cabinet Committee has the opportunity to utilize fully the skills and experience of the Executive Agencies.



Note: The release containing the text of this letter to the Secretary of the Interior listed the following agencies as members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Water Resources: Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health, Education, and Welfare, and Army; and the Federal Power Commission. The release added that the Labor Department would have associate membership. The President's letter approving the establishment of the Inter-Agency Committee was not released.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Secretary McKay Establishing a Cabinet Committee on Water Resources Policy. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232051

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