Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Signing of a Bill Authorizing the Auburn-Folsom Project, California

September 02, 1965

We are delighted this morning to have our distinguished and very progressive Secretary of the Interior here with us, and some of the responsible Members of Congress, who have been very helpful to us in our endeavors during the past 8 months that the Congress has been here.

Those months have been marked by some savage and tragic contrasts in our water problems across the Nation.

In the West and the Midwest the raging floods have swept through town after town, claiming lives, destroying millions of dollars worth of property.

And while that was happening in the West and Midwest in our great country, here in the East we were in the grip of an unprecedented and deepening drought.

And when these emergencies arise, the Government is pledged to do what has to be done and what can be done. Let me make it clear that I do not like emergencies.

First, because they are expensive. In the past 12 months the flood damages in the United States alone have amounted to a billion and a quarter dollars.

Second, because they are wasteful. Last year's floods in northern California alone carried enough water into the sea to meet the domestic and municipal and complete industrial demands of the entire Nation for a whole year--16 trillion gallons.

Third, because they are really unnecessary. We now have the capability to plan ahead and to build together so that these disasters can be prevented. Our generation is challenged to really make a steady, determined, and, I hope, successful effort to eliminate drought and flood from this land.

In the last few months we have had challenges equally as important that have been met. And if our astronauts can do what they did the other day--spend 8 days in space--we have got enough ingenuity, imagination, and determination here to get the job done with drought and floods.

Now, the 89th Congress has responded more to this challenge than any Congress in our history. It has compiled the greatest 8-month record of conservation since the Nation was born.

And today, as part of that record, we have gathered here in the White House to sign into law the Auburn-Folsom South Project for California's Central Valley. (I saw Carl Hayden here and I was wondering if this was that billion dollar Arizona bill.) But in every sense, this is really a modern answer to an age-old problem.

The city of Sacramento, California, has been living under the perennial threat of floods from the American River. Now we are going to eliminate that threat with the construction of the massive Auburn Dam.

The water that is stored behind that dam will drought-proof the entire Central Valley. If this dam had been in existence last year, when the American River rampaged, we could have saved enough water to serve the city of Sacramento for more than 5 years.

New homes and townsites, of course, will result and be developed. Industry and agriculture will be assured of the water they need.

The reservoir itself, located on the western slope of the Sierras, will provide wholesome outdoor recreation for millions of nearby citizens.

And, finally, the water of the American River soon will be spinning huge turbines, generating cheap electric power for the farm and for the city.

Thus, we add to the legacy of America--a legacy of protection, of growth, of recreation, of electric power, and we do it all with one single project.

Governor Pat Brown, the very able and progressive Members of the California congressional delegation, have worked long and have worked hard for the Auburn-Folsom South.

I am glad that I can be a small part of their diligence and their success, and I am happy to be able to participate in making their dreams come true.

I have never seen a dollar invested anywhere in this Nation in water conservation, in multiple-use projects, that in a period of even a decade didn't prove that it was a good investment, and would pay very high returns on what we had spent for it.

So, this is not the last conservation project that we will approve. It is not the last legislation in this field. We are going to continue it until we have stopped the floods, we have prevented the drought, and we have the kind of conservation program that is worthy of the 20th century, and worthy of the foresight of the American people.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. During his remarks he referred to Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, and Governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown of California.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 485) is Public Law 89161 (79 Stat. 615).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Signing of a Bill Authorizing the Auburn-Folsom Project, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives