711.4216 M 58/97

The British Chargé (Chilton) to the Secretary of State

No. 299

Sir: I beg leave to refer to Sir Esme Howard’s note No. 91 of February 5th last in regard to the permit issued to the Sanitary District of Chicago by the Secretary of War on March 3rd, 1925, for the diversion of water from Lake Michigan and to inform you that the Government of Canada have been led by recent press reports to invite your attention again to the international aspect of projects now being pressed in Congress for the construction of an Illinois-Mississippi waterway which involve the withdrawal of water from the Great Lakes system through the Chicago Sanitary District Canal. The explicit or implicit authorization by the United States Congress of such withdrawal for navigation purposes would, as has previously been represented, introduce a further disturbing factor into the consideration of a situation already of much difficulty.

The approaching report of the Joint Engineering Board upon the proposed St. Lawrence Waterway, including certain aspects of lake levels, the probability of joint consideration at an early date of the Niagara situation, and the assurances contained in your note No. 711.4216 M 58/72 of November 24th, 1925, of progressive reduction of the present abstraction at Chicago would seem to provide bases for discussion by the two countries of all outstanding waterways problems. The discussion and settlement of these issues would be seriously complicated were the Chicago abstraction to be confirmed by enactments which would appear to add national to state approval and to recognize diversions for navigation purposes in addition to the sanitary purposes which alone were stated in your note of November 24th, 1925, to be the basis of the present permit. The Government of Canada have, of course, no desire to express any opinion upon the purely United States phases of the projected waterway, but they cannot overlook its bearing upon the vital interests of Canada in the preservation of the Great Lakes system which Canada shares with the United States and of the national sections of the St. Lawrence waterway. Those common interests and the neighbourly [Page 585] goodwill which has marked the settlement of boundary waterways problems reinforce the principles of international practice and the provisions of the Boundary Waterways Treaty in the conclusion that no diversions from the Great Lakes involving a transfer of water from a common watershed to another should be effected or confirmed in either country, unless after joint consideration and agreement.

In furnishing you with these observations, I would express the earnest hope that the Government of the United States will agree that only through the recognition of this principle can a firm basis be secured for safeguarding the interests of both countries.

I have [etc.]

H. G. Chilton