Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles A. Timm of the Division of the American Republics

Participants: Señor Dr. Don Francisco Castillo Nájera, Mexican Ambassador
Mr. Duggan
Dr. Timm

At Mr. Duggan’s request the Mexican Ambassador called at Mr. Duggan’s office to receive an informal confidential memorandum79 in reply to Mexico’s memorandum of March 19, 1942 in which it was contended that 2,000,000 acre-feet of water would be available for Mexico from the Colorado River even after full development in the United States.

By way of preliminary explanation Mr. Duggan said that a careful study of the Mexican contention had been made for the past six months and that, in consequence, he could state positively that 2,000,000 acre-feet would not normally be available for Mexico after full development in the Basin States. The present memorandum, which he then handed to the Ambassador, contains data, he said, to sustain this conclusion.

[Page 560]

After reading the memorandum the Ambassador said he would be glad to refer the matter to the appropriate officials. Mr. Duggan stated that the difference between the amount claimed by Mexico and the amount tentatively offered by the Department (1, 150,000) was nearly 1,000,000 acre-feet and that it was simply unthinkable that the United States Senate would approve a treaty providing an allocation anywhere near the Mexican figure. He also called attention to the clearly established fact that the Colorado system does not provide enough water for the irrigable lands of both countries; furthermore, he noted that other considerations of great value to Mexico would go far to enable Mexico to make the greatest possible beneficial use of every available acre-foot of water. Both Mr. Duggan and Dr. Timm emphasized the greater value of controlled, scheduled water as compared with natural flow.

In reply to these statements the Ambassador admitted that controlled water had greater value than natural flow, but he said that control did not add enough value to make 1, 150,000 acre-feet equivalent to Mexico’s just share of the water supply. He added, however, that the data contained in the present memorandum might, if it were made available to him, be quite useful to the Mexican Boundary Commissioner, Señor Ing. Rafael Fernández MacGregor. Mr. Duggan then stated that additional studies were being made of the water supply of the Colorado and of the relative value of controlled water as compared with natural flow. He expressed the hope that as a result of these studies it would be possible to make more rapid progress in the negotiations.

In the course of the conversation Mr. Duggan took occasion to say that Dr. Timm had been added to the staff of the Department of State with the immediate task of making a special study of the water problem existing between the United States and Mexico. He also mentioned that he, Mr. L. M. Lawson, American Boundary Commissioner, and Dr. Timm had recently held conferences with representatives of the Basin States on the subject of the proposed water treaty and that while they (Duggan and Timm) were in El Paso they had had the pleasure of paying a brief visit, accompanied by Mr. Lawson, to the office of the Mexican Section of the Boundary Commission, where they had been most courteously received by the Mexican Commissioner.

  1. Infra.