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Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Providing Federal Assistance to the Fort Sumner Irrigation District, New Mexico

July 29, 1949

I HAVE today approved S. 276, authorizing "a project for the rehabilitation of certain works of the Fort Sumner irrigation district in New Mexico." Under this act, the Federal Government will rehabilitate, operate, and maintain, under the reclamation laws, an irrigation system which heretofore has been a private venture. The construction costs involved will be repaid by the water users over an extended period of time.

The irrigation district has been unable to obtain private financing for replacement of the existing dam, rehabilitation and enlargement of canal systems, installation of an adequate pumping plant, and repair and extension of the drainage system, all of which are urgently needed. This act will make it possible to accomplish this necessary work and put the farmers in the district in a position to maintain successful farming operations.

By the enactment of S. 276, the Congress has indicated its belief that there are circumstances under which Federal assistance for the rehabilitation of non-Federal irrigation projects is desirable and appropriate in the national interest. I agree, but I do not believe that bringing projects under the reclamation laws, one at a time, provides the best means of furnishing such assistance.

In this case, however, there is a special need for prompt action which leads me to approve this bill. the existing dam has been partially destroyed by flood waters and has been temporarily repaired with an earth fill. The dam is now threatened with destruction if another flood of even moderate proportions should occur. therefore, I do not consider that approval of this act establishes a precedent for the approval in the future of other bills authorizing Federal assistance for individual projects of this type.

It seems to me that assistance to such projects should be provided through a general program designed to meet the needs of cooperative organizations of water users. the statutory foundation for such a program should be laid by enactment of legislation similar to that under which the Federal Government formerly carried on a program for extending assistance to non-Federal irrigation districts.

Note: As enacted, S. 276 is Public Law 192 (63 Stat. 483).

Harry S. Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Providing Federal Assistance to the Fort Sumner Irrigation District, New Mexico Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229794

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