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Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill Permitting Increased Water Diversion From Lake Michigan

August 09, 1956

I have withheld my approval of H. R. 3210, "To authorize the State of Illinois and the Sanitary District of Chicago, under the direction of the Secretary of the Army, to test, on a three-year basis, the effect of increasing the diversion of water from Lake Michigan into the Illinois Waterway, and for other purposes."

This bill is substantially the same in purpose and effect as H. R. 3300 of the 83d Congress from which I also withheld my approval in that it would authorize the State of Illinois and the Sanitary District of Chicago to increase from 1,500 to 2,500 cubic feet per second the diversion of water from Lake Michigan to the Illinois Waterway for a period of three years. H. R. 3210 would also direct the Secretary of the Army to make a study with respect to the effect of the diversion and to make recommendations regarding its continuance. While certain conditions and limitations are imposed that were not in the earlier bill these do not deal with the fundamental reasons for my withholding approval of that measure.

In my memorandum of disapproval of H. R. 3300 I stated, among other things,

"I am unable to approve the bill because . . . (2) all methods of control of Lake levels and protection of property on the Great Lakes should be considered before arbitrarily proceeding with the proposed increased diversion, (3) the diversions are authorized without reference to negotiations with Canada, and (4) the legitimate interests of other States affected by the diversion may be adversely affected .... "

A comprehensive report by the Corps of Engineers which will include consideration of the best methods of obtaining improved control of the levels of the Great Lakes and of preventing recurrence of damage along the shores is nearing completion. I am asking the Secretary of Defense to expedite completion of this report. This report is in addition to the technical report on the effects of an increased diversion into the Illinois Waterway which has been made by the Joint Lake Ontario Engineering Board to the International Joint Commission. I think it would be unwise to proceed with the diversion in the manner proposed in H. R. 3210 until all relevant information has been obtained, particularly since objections to the proposed diversion have been registered by the Canadian Government in its note dated February 13, 1956, and additional objections filed by legal advisers of the States of Wisconsin, Ohio, and New York.

Although I am fully aware of the seriousness of some of the problems confronting the Chicago area and the State of Illinois, the record on H. R. 3210 affords no basis for me to change my position in this matter. Accordingly, under the circumstances, I am convinced that the bill should not be approved.

I am asking the State Department to engage in discussions with the Canadian Government in an attempt to work out a solution to these problems as soon as all pertinent facts are available.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill Permitting Increased Water Diversion From Lake Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233033

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