Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing the Southern Nevada Water Project.
I HAVE approved S. 32, "To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct, operate, and maintain the southern Nevada water project, Nevada, and for other purposes."
The southern Nevada water supply project which would be authorized by this bill consists of a system of distribution pipelines and related facilities to furnish water to Las Vegas, several other Nevada towns, and Nellis Air Force Base. I have supported Federal authorization of this project as the appropriate means for assisting this area to meet its growing water supply problems.
However, during the course of this legislation through the Congress a rider in the form of section 6 was added to it without consultation with any executive agency.
Section 6 provides as follows: "In all water supply contracts for the use of water in Nevada under this Act or section 5 of the Boulder Canyon Project Act (45 Stat. 1057) the Secretary shall recognize the intrastate priorities of water fights to the use of water existing on the date of enactment of this Act: Provided, however, That nothing in this Act shall be construed as validating any right diminished or lost because of abandonment, nonuse, or lack of due diligence, nor shall anything in this Act be construed as affecting the satisfaction of present perfected rights as defined by the decree of the United States Supreme Court in Arizona against California et al. (376 U.S. 340) ."
Although these provisions are couched in general terms, the scant legislative history of the bill indicates that they are intended to be applicable to one company only. While there may be some equities which would justify special consideration for this company, I am advised by the Secretary of the Interior that these provisions might well have a much broader sweep. In fact, it appears that they might affect in unforeseeable ways the water rights of a number of individuals and firms amounting to 60,000 to 70,000 additional acre feet.
In these circumstances I have asked the Secretary of the Interior to develop legislation which would amend section 6 to limit its effect to that intended by the Congress. I am confident that those members concerned with this legislation will agree that the uncertainties surrounding the broader than intended effect of section 6 make its amendment desirable.
Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 32), approved October 22, 1965, is Public Law 89-292 (79 Stat. 1068).
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing the Southern Nevada Water Project. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241160