Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Provide Water From the Santa Margarita River.
I HAVE SIGNED today H.R. 5731, a bill "To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to construct facilities to provide water for irrigation, municipal, domestic, military, and other uses from the Santa Margarita River, California, and for other purposes."
This legislation grows out of the long-standing controversy between the United States and the Fallbrook Public Utility District and other water users concerning fights to the use of the waters of the Santa Margarita River. The bill will provide authority for the Secretary of the Interior, after certain determinations have been made, to construct storage facilities to satisfy the needs of the Fallbrook District and also of the United States if its water rights would not be jeopardized. I believe this legislation will be helpful to all agencies and persons concerned and I congratulate all those who cooperated in obtaining its enactment.
It is to be noted that, unless otherwise agreed by the Secretary of the Navy, the facilities authorized by the bill, including the De Luz Dam, are to be operated in a manner which will permit the unobstructed passage of all of the water to which the United States is now entitled. It is likewise to be noted that the bill is not to be construed as a grant or a relinquishment of any of the rights in the Santa Margarita River which the United States now owns. That stream provides the essential supply of water for Camp Pendleton, a naval hospital and a naval ammunition depot. Each of those vital establishments is important for purposes of national defense.
The bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to construct the dam and other facilities only after he has determined that the project has economic and engineering feasibility. It is my understanding that such a determination will not be made until he has found that there will be ample water available in the Santa Margarita River for storage at the De Luz Dam, separate and apart from all rights to the use of water of the United States (except any appropriative rights hereafter obtained) and of all claimants on the stream.
In view of litigation now pending between the United States and other claimants to water from the Santa Margarita River, I shall expect the Secretary of the Navy to obtain and be guided by the advice of the Attorney General before taking any steps to acquire additional water rights in the River on behalf of the United States. Furthermore, I expect that the Secretary of the Navy will not agree to the impounding of any water to the use of which the United States is entitled without first consulting with the Attorney General and obtaining from him advice that such impounding will not be a grant or relinquishment of any of the rights to the use of water which the United States of America has acquired in accordance with the laws of the State of California.
Note: As enacted, H.R. 5731 is Public Law 547, 83d Congress (68 Stat. 575).
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill To Provide Water From the Santa Margarita River. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232374