711.4216 M 58/150

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Canada (Phillips)

No. 414

Sir: Reference is made to the Department’s instructions No. 140 of February 1, 1928 and No. 187 of March 23, 1928 and to your despatch No. 520 of July 13 last in regard to the matter of the proposed construction by the United States War Department of the compensating works in the Niagara and St. Clair Rivers which were recommended in the report of the Joint Board of Engineers on the St. Lawrence waterway on November 16, 1926.

A copy of your despatch was forwarded to the Secretary of War with the request that he comment on the statements of the Canadian Government in regard to this matter. There is enclosed for your information a copy of the reply, dated September 14, 1928, from the Secretary of War.32

It is desired that you bring this matter again to the attention of the Canadian Government. You will point out that the compensating works proposed in the Niagara and St. Clair Rivers have for their purpose the compensation of lowered lake levels irrespective of the cause of such lowered levels. You will add that the compensating works proposed for the St. Clair River, following the plans prepared by the Joint Board of Engineers on the St. Lawrence waterway, are intended to correct a total lowering of one foot in the levels of Lakes Huron and Michigan, resulting from diversions and the enlargement of the contracted section at the head of this River; and that the appropriate authorities of your Government consider that the dredging of gravel for commercial purposes in Canada is a major contributing cause to this enlargement.

You will explain to the Canadian Government that the compensating works proposed in the Niagara River are similarly intended to correct the lowering of the level of Lake Erie, resulting from diversions both in the United States and in Canada for sanitary, canal and power purposes. You will add that while a comprehensive and final settlement of the issues created by the Chicago diversion is unquestionably desirable, such a settlement involves the covering of all the waters and interests affected and it would be impracticable to present within a reasonable time an all inclusive plan of settlement. It would appear contrary to the best interests of Canada as well as of the United States to defer for an indefinite period remedial measures whose immediate execution is not only feasible but has been recommended by the Joint Board of Engineers [Page 54] representing both countries. You will add that the construction of the proposed compensating works will in no way prejudice any other features of the plan of final settlement.

With respect to the statement of the Canadian Government that the proposed works do not provide compensation as regards navigation and power in the St. Lawrence system below the Niagara River, you will say that, from a physical standpoint, the works proposed for remedying the lowered lake levels are entirely independent of any works or measures appropriate for remedying the effect below the Niagara River. The Joint Board of Engineers on the St. Lawrence waterway made an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of constructing more elaborate works in the St. Clair and Niagara Rivers which might be operated to improve the outflow of the St. Lawrence and unanimously came to the conclusion that such works are impracticable and inadvisable.

You will state that while the recent rise in the levels of the Great Lakes, due to ample rainfall, has rendered somewhat less acute the need for works for the correction of the levels, yet it is in such periods of abundant supply that the compensating works should be constructed. Their construction will necessarily diminish slightly the flow of the St. Lawrence River during the period of adjustment of the lake levels, and the works cannot be constructed at times of extreme low water without some injury to Canadian interests. By taking advantage of the present opportunity to construct them, future extreme low levels of the lakes, injurious to the interests of both Canada and the United States, will be forestalled.

You will say that in view of the foregoing considerations you venture to express the hope of your Government that the Government of Canada will see fit to consent to the construction of the proposed works by the United States War Department.

In response to Mr. King’s inquiry as to whether a definite appropriation for the proposed works has yet been made by Congress, you will note that the letter from the War Department states that Congress has not yet made an appropriation for this purpose but that the authorization of such an appropriation has been recommended to Congress in a report, dated April 26, 1928, from the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, on a preliminary examination and survey of the Great Lakes, their connecting waters, principal harbors and river channels, authorized by the River and Harbor Act approved January 21, 1927.

I am [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. Supra.