The Adviser on Political Relations (Duggan) to the Counselor of Embassy in Mexico (Bursley)
Dear Herb: As you suggested in your letter of July 12,62 there is some reason to hope that progress is being made in the Colorado River [Page 618] negotiations. However, as will be noted below, not all the news is good.
The Mexican memorandum of July 163 did not indicate any reduction in the Mexican demand for water. However, Fernández MacGregor has apparently been authorized to discuss figures below 2,000,000 acre feet. As I understand the present situation, the two Governments are not directly to undertake to reach an agreement concerning the amount of water but have authorized the two Commissioners to make recommendations, the expectation being that if they can agree on some amount, the concurrence of the two Governments will be highly probable.
The latest reports from El Paso indicate that there is still a wide gap between the positions of the two Commissioners. If we could feel justified in giving as much as 1,700,000 acre feet, it is probable that rapid progress could be made. However, it is difficult to see how, as matters stand, we can go above the Santa Fe formula, which envisages an ultimate guarantee of approximately 1,500,000 acre feet to Mexico per year. The Basin States went a long way when they approved a formula that virtually doubled the Committee’s formula of June 1942.
It is to be hoped that our Mexican friends will not conclude that Mexico has more to gain through arbitration than through negotiations. In some respects arbitration may offer some alluring prospects to Mexico, but a realistic appraisal of the situation should make them beware of that method.
The best news today is that diversions through Rockwood Heading have reached approximately 3,500 c.f.s. This is due partly to continued high river flow but more to improvement in operations at the Heading. This provides its own commentary on the late April-early May flurry about diversions.
We shall keep you informed. As you suggest, and especially in view of the broad discretion that each Government has given to its Boundary Commissioner, it would appear inadvisable to encourage discussions in Mexico City or, for that matter, with the Mexican Embassy here.