Mr. Charles A. Timm of the Division of the American Republics to the American Commissioner, International Boundary Commission (Lawson)
My Dear Mr. Lawson: In your letter of October 18, 1943 to Mr. Duggan69 you summarized and briefly discussed the present differences between United States and Mexican representatives on the subject of the proposed water treaty. These points have already been the subject of long distance telephone conversations with you; hence this reply to your letter will serve primarily as a confirmation of views already expressed and as a statement of conclusions reached in conferences here. As you already know, the Department concurs with your position in regard to these several points of difference.
- Yuma Drain and Surplus Waters. It is not yet seen how we can recede from our position that these waters should be charged to Mexico’s allocation. The only alternative would seem to be for the United States to dispose of them in some other manner so as to insure credit for them. It may be, however, that certain concessions might be made in regard to the technical or financial aspects presently governing their disposition; if true, the Department is in need of additional information on this point. Insofar as the position of the Bureau of Reclamation is concerned, I suggested in my conversation of October 19 with Commissioner Bashore that the larger interests involved might make it necessary for the Department to have a free hand in the disposition of the waters in question. It is assumed that this matter is one of the subjects of conversation this week between Mr. Ainsworth and the Bureau officials in Denver.
- Allocation of Costs of International Structures on the Rio Grande. It is true that in one of our drafts in El Paso there was presented the idea of a fifty-fifty division of costs and revenues of hydro-electric plants. On the other hand, we attempted from the first to establish the principle that the costs of storage works should bear some relationship to assigned storage capacities. There appears to be some opportunity for compromise on this matter. Nevertheless, it seems that the Mexicans are trying to assure themselves of enough power revenues to pay for their proportion of the costs, with the possibility, even, of future profits. On the other hand, as regards the cost of the major storage reservoirs, the basis of benefits received or to be received, as urged by the Mexicans, would seem to insure that the United States would bear a disproportionate part of the cost. [Page 625] At the same time, as I have already stated, it is believed that a fair compromise on the matter of costs should be possible.
- Commission Control of Diversion Works on the Lower Rio Grande. On this point there does not seem to be much opportunity for a compromise. It is not believed that our people would find tolerable any degree of Mexican control over such diversions or diversion works, nor would such control seem to serve any useful purpose so long as diversions were within the allocation of water as provided in the treaty.
- Use of the All-American Canal. It is assumed that this is one of the major points of discussion with the representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation; hence, there is little that can or need be said at this time. If, as you have suggested, the Bureau of Reclamation tends to favor the location of the Mexican diversion dam in the international section of the river, the suggested figure of 1,000 second feet should suffice to take care of all the Mexican lands lying at too high an elevation to be served from the Mexican dam.
- Surplus Waters of the Colorado. This point, apparently introduced at the very last by the Mexicans, has, it may be, some dangerous aspects. It seems to be an additional indication that the Mexicans are making every effort to leave certain loopholes in the treaty whereby they will be able in effect to get more than the stated amounts of 1,500,000 and 1,700,000 acre feet. As their proposition appears to us, assuming that the Mexicans develop considerable non-summer uses for water, they could divert without charge large quantities of surplus waters in the fall, winter and spring and then demand during the summer the full amount of A water without exceeding, as a total charge, the technical allocation under the treaty. As you suggest, this proposal would seem to warrant very careful study. If it appears sufficiently dangerous, it may be thought advisable to take a firm position against it in its present form, even at the cost of modifying certain comparable phraseology in the provisions regarding the Rio Grande.
These points of difference do not appear to present insuperable obstacles to a final solution. At the same time it is not believed that the United States can afford to concede all of them, or all of any one of them.
It is our hope that the conversations in Denver will clear the decks as far as the interests of the Bureau of Reclamation are concerned. The way should then be open for the resumption of conversations with the Mexicans in El Paso–Juarez early in November. It has never been our expectation here that any of the differences with the Mexicans could be left to settlement in Mexico City. Furthermore, as you stated, “the exchange of drafts and the adoption of principles are based [Page 626] on complete approval and not an acceptance of particular paragraphs or principles, since there is a correlation of ideas that presupposes complete and not partial concurrence.”
As to whether anyone from the Department will participate in the next meetings will be the subject of immediate consideration. It is understood, however, that the Mexicans desire such participation; consequently, it is assumed that one or more will go from here.
This letter has been read by Mr. McGurk and Mr. Duggan.
With best wishes, I am
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