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

SUBJECT

  • Lower Rio Grande Salinity Problem

The attached memo from State (Tab B)2 explains that the US-Mexico Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has come up with a recommendation for solving the lower Rio Grande salinity problem. The solution involves building a canal in Mexico to take the saline drainage to the Gulf of Mexico. Cost of construction and of operation and maintenance (estimated $1.2 million) would be shared on an equal basis. State proposes that announcement of the IBWC recommendation be in the form of a joint press release by you and President Diaz Ordaz.

The IBWC recommendation has been staffed out. Bureau of the Budget is on board. Congressman de la Garza wants to introduce the enabling legislation. Senator Yarborough has been filled in and supports the project. The local Texas farmers, needless to say, are all for it. Interior is not directly involved, but has been informed.

The project is a good one. It is beneficial to farmers on both sides of the border. It is in line with your general effort to solve boundary problems with Mexico. At a time when other Latin American countries are denouncing—and shooting—each other over border disputes, it is [Page 752]a good example of how states with a common border can cooperate to mutual advantage. From a domestic and foreign standpoint, I think it would be advantageous for you to be associated personally with it.

I, therefore, recommend that you authorize us to negotiate with the Mexicans for a joint Presidential announcement along the lines of Tab A.3 If you authorize the negotiations, we will, of course, check the text worked out with the Mexicans with you before giving it to Bill Moyers for release.

McG.B.

Authorize negotiations for a Presidential announcement4

Prefer not making it a Presidential announcement

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Mexico, Vol. I, Memos, 12/63–12/65. No classification marking.
  2. Tab B is a memorandum from Read to Bundy, December 15; attached but not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. The President checked this option. For text of the press statement released by the White House on December 30, see Department of State Bulletin, January 24, 1966, p. 118. On February 10, 1967, the White House announced that the United States and Mexico had approved an agreement to solve the salinity problem of the Rio Grande. (Ibid., March 13, 1967, pp. 428–429; and Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1967, Book I, p. 175)