350. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1


  • Salinity Problem with Mexico

The Mexican Ambassador will call on you at 6 PM, July 28, to deliver a letter from President Lopez Mateos on our proposal to resolve the salinity problem on the lower Colorado River. Secretary Udall, Tom Mann, and Mr. Sayre, from my staff, will attend.

The Mexican Ambassador will make three basic points:

Mexico appreciates the efforts the U.S. has made to achieve a solution to the salinity problem. The U.S. proposal being discussed in the International Boundary and Water Commission would reduce the amount of salt in water delivered to Mexico, but there would still be more salt than would result from normal irrigation operations. The proposal promises a further reduction in salt from Wellton-Mohawk, but gives no indication as to when. Moreover, it still contemplates the delivery of underground salt water and not “return flow,” as defined by the Treaty.
Mexico regards a by-pass channel (either entirely separate, or within the present channel of the Colorado River) as the only way to achieve a prompt and satisfactory solution.
Mexico will continue to reserve its legal position on the interpretation of the 1944 Treaty and international law just as both countries did in the Chamizal settlement.

I recommend that you inform the Mexican Ambassador:

We share the Mexican desire for an early solution to this problem.
We will review our proposals to see if there is any possible way to reduce further the amount of salt which would be delivered to Mexico this winter. We will also try to give Mexico an answer on when the Wellton-Mohawk district can achieve normal operation, i.e., when it will be in salt balance.
We have studied the by-pass channel alternative. We know that Mexico is interested in a result that would be satisfactory to both governments, and not necessarily in the alternatives the U.S. adopts to achieve that result. At the moment we cannot say whether a by-pass channel should be included in the combination of works to achieve that result.
We agree that we should seek a practical solution with no attempt to interpret or modify the 1944 Treaty. We have no problem with both sides reserving their legal positions.2

McGeorge Bundy 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Mexico, Vol. I, Memos, 12/63–12/65. No classification marking.
  2. Although he delivered the letter as scheduled, Carrillo Flores reported that “the situation had changed since the letter had been written in that the Mexican Commissioner had given the views of the Mexican Government to the United States Commissioner.” President Johnson asked Udall “to take action to resolve the salinity problem.” Johnson also extended an invitation for Díaz Ordaz to visit his Texas ranch in October. (Memorandum of conversation, July 28; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 33–1 MEX–US)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.