Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Joint Action With Mexico on the Lower Rio Grande Salinity Problem.

September 19, 1966

I PROUDLY SIGN legislation authorizing a joint project with our sister Republic of Mexico for the solution of the salinity problem in the Lower Rio Grande.

This is another example of how good neighbors solve common problems. Within the past few years, our two countries have already resolved the Chamizal border dispute at El Paso and have taken measures to resolve the salinity problem on the Colorado River.

Now we will undertake a new joint effort on the salinity problem of the Lower Rio Grande.

Today the saline waters of the Lower Rio Grande prevent attaining the potential abundance of over 1 million acres of fertile land on both sides of the border. We cannot afford this needless waste. We need not.

The peoples of the United States and Mexico have united in a joint venture to develop the border together. The International Boundary and Water Commission, made up of representatives from the two countries, was created to resolve common problems and to help develop fully the bountiful resources on both sides of the border.

This organization has proposed a canal to convey practically all the saline waters from a Mexican irrigation district--now reaching the Lower Rio Grande--directly to the Gulf of Mexico. That proposal is embodied in the legislation I am about to sign.

Once this project is completed, the brackish waters will no longer damage seedlings, citrus fruits, and vegetables. That water will be conveyed directly to the sea. The Rio Grande will again become free from harmful concentration of salts, so damaging to agriculture on both sides of the border.

In this spirit of cooperative endeavor, both countries will share equally in the cost of the international project. Each will contribute $690,000. Also, local people in the United States benefiting most directly from this project will share equally with their Government in paying for it. They have already raised and deposited in the Treasury nearly 90 percent of their share. I commend these fine people for their initiative, cooperation, and confidence.

I also commend the many Members of Congress who have made this project a reality. I especially commend my friends from Texas, Senator Yarborough and Congressman de la Garza, who so effectively sponsored it.

I am informing my very good friend President Diaz Ordaz of Mexico of the favorable action by the Congress. We jointly announced last December the recommendation of the International Boundary and Water Commission for the solution of this problem. Today we can both rejoice that the solution will soon become a reality.

Note: As enacted, the act to authorize conclusion of an agreement with Mexico for joint measures for solution of the Lower Rio Grande salinity problem (S. 2747) is Public Law 89-584 (80 Stat. 808).

For the President's telegram to President Diaz Ordaz informing him of the enactment, see Item 468.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Joint Action With Mexico on the Lower Rio Grande Salinity Problem. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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