Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on the Saline Water Conversion Program.

March 29, 1965

Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)

Past generations of Americans have been blessed with an abundance of sparkling, dean water. But in recent years we have become careless in our stewardship of this vital resource--polluting, wasting, and carelessly exploiting it.

Water shortages--real as well as prospective-already plague some regions of our land. Other areas and communities will soon be threatened. Yet, we must have an abundance of fresh water if we are to continue to grow and prosper.

Action to conserve what nature has so generously provided has often been inadequate and too late. We are determined not to make this mistake again. I have already pledged full support for cleaning up our rivers--and keeping them clean. We will continue to foster conservation by planning for the wisest possible use of all existing water supplies and by curbing and eliminating wasteful and uneconomic uses of water.

But these steps are not enough. New sources of supply at competitive costs are also required if we are to stay abreast of the ever-mounting demand for water. The seas around us offer an inexhaustible reservoir to help meet this need in coastal areas while vast quantities of brackish water are available to supplement the supplies of many inland areas. We must spare no effort in learning how to desalt these waters economically.

For the past 12 years the United States has been engaged in a program of research and development which has brought desalting technology to a point where it shows promise of economic application in the future. To stimulate the translation of this promise into reality, I requested the Department of the Interior last July to develop, in close collaboration with the Atomic Energy Commission, a proposed program which would significantly advance large-scale desalting technology.

The resulting report entitled "Program for Advancing Desalting Technology" was completed promptly and released to the public on October 26, 1964. It recommended-and I am transmitting with this letter draft legislation to accomplish--expansion, extension, an acceleration of the salt water conversion research and development activities now being conducted by the Department of the Interior under authority of the Anderson-Aspinall Act of 1961.

This legislative proposal would increase by $200 million the $75 million appropriation authorization provided in the 1961 Act and extend through 1972 the time during which the authorized funds would be available to support this important program. Enactment of this legislation is vital if the Department of the Interior is to mount and lead the substantial sustained effort necessary to achieve truly economical desalting of sea and brackish waters.

In the meantime, I have already transmitted to the Congress a request for a supplemental appropriation of $3.9 million in 1965 to enable the Department, through a reorganized Office of Saline Water, to accelerate its research and development activities along the general lines outlined in the report mentioned above. Desalting activities will receive continuing emphasis in 1966. My budgetary recommendations to Congress for the coming fiscal year amount to $29 million for the Office of Saline Water, more than double the amount appropriated for 1965.

By pressing ahead with a vigorous program of economic desalting to meet our ever-growing domestic needs for water, we will at the same time provide the technology which can be shared with other nations. This technology could prove to be the key that will unlock the door to economic growth for many of these nations.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the power for good, the palliative effect on age-old animosities and problems, that would result from providing an abundance of water in lands which, for countless generations, have known only shortage. To stimulate cooperation in the field with such great potential for the good of mankind, the United States will convoke a symposium of interested nations in October 1965 to exchange information on desalting technology.

In recommending this measure to the Congress, I wish to acknowledge the foresight of such able legislators as Clinton Anderson, Wayne Aspinall, and the late Clair Engle. Our present efforts in desalting rest in substantial measure upon the sound foundation they laid and on which we intend to build. I earnestly hope that their leadership and the progress which it has inspired can be carried forward without interruption by the prompt enactment of the bill I am transmitting today.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In the last paragraph the President referred to Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico, Representative Wayne Aspinall of Colorado, and the late Senator Clair Engle of California.

The bill to expand, extend, and accelerate the saline water conversion program was approved by the President on August 11 (see Item 417).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on the Saline Water Conversion Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives