Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Water Resources Planning Bill.
I am transmitting herewith a draft of legislation designated as the "Water Resources Planning Act of 1961." This draft supersedes the proposal transmitted with the letter of January 16, 1961, from the former Director of the Bureau of the Budget and now pending before the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
In my message to the Congress on natural resources, I stated that:
"Our Nation has been blessed with a bountiful supply of water; but it is not a blessing we can regard with complacency. We now use over 300 billion gallons of water a day, much of it wastefully. By 1980 we will need 600 billion gallons a day.
"Our supply of water is not always consistent with our needs of time and place. Floods one day in one section may be countered in other days or in other sections by the severe water shortages which are now afflicting many eastern urban areas and are particularly critical in the West. Our available water supply must be used to give maximum benefits for all purposes--hydroelectric power, irrigation and reclamation, navigation, recreation, health, home and industry..."
Maximum beneficial use of water rests upon comprehensive and coordinated planning by both Federal agencies and States. This draft legislation will encourage and make possible such planning.
Legislation already introduced in the Senate and the House manifests congressional recognition of the need for comprehensive planning for water and related land resources. The draft legislation adopts principles and procedures included in a number of these pending bills. Implementing the recommendations on comprehensive planning and grants to States for such planning made by the Senate Select Committee on National Water Resources, the proposed legislation brings together in a single bill authorizations for complementary planning activities by Federal agencies and State governments.
The regional or river basin commissions authorized by the bill will prepare and keep up to date comprehensive, integrated, joint plans for Federal, State, and local development of water and related land resources. Existing laws will not be modified or superseded. The preparation of detailed plans and specifications for individual projects, and the construction and operation of works of improvement will continue to be the responsibility of appropriate Federal agencies, States, or local groups.
Another important feature of the bill is the establishment of an interdepartmental group in the Executive Branch for coordinating river basin plans and for maintaining a continuing study of water supply, requirements, and management. The Water Resources Council will be composed of the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Other departments and agencies with interest in the water resources field, will participate in the work of the Council on an ad hoc basis. The draft legislation provides that the chairman of the Council shall be designated by the President. I propose to designate the Secretary of the Interior as the first chairman of the Council.
The first major task of the Water Resources Council will be to establish, subject to my approval, standards for formulating and evaluating water resources projects. These standards will replace those currently in effect.
Finally, the proposed legislation would authorize financial assistance to the States enabling them to play a more effective role in planning for the development and conservation of water and related land resources. This is an essential element in promoting sound, comprehensive water resources planning.
We have a national obligation to manage our basic water supply so it will be available when and where needed and in acceptable quality and quantity--and we have no time to lose. The planning authorized by this legislation will provide a vital tool for achieving effective water resources management.
Also enclosed is a section-by-section analysis of the bill. A similar letter is being sent to the President of the Senate.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives,
John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Water Resources Planning Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235119