55. National Security Decision Memorandum 2181


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Interior


  • Salinity Problem with Mexico

The President has approved the recommendations for an interim and a permanent solution of the problem of the salinity of the Colorado River waters flowing into Mexico contained in the report submitted on December 29, 1972, by his Special Representative, Mr. Herbert Brownell.

The President has asked Mr. Brownell to conduct negotiations with Mexico as appropriate with a view to reaching an agreement on the basis of his proposals. He will work as Special Representative of the President. Mr. Brownell should be able to call on other Departments and Agencies for assistance as necessary.

The President has decided that the Department of Interior will be responsible for preparing legislation seeking authorization for the immediate relocation and lining of the Coachella Canal, and design and construction by 1978 of a desalting plant and related works, to be submitted to the President for approval and for subsequent presentation to Congress at the appropriate time.

The President has also directed that a working group chaired by a representative of the Department of Interior be established to determine and implement means of further increasing Wellton-Mohawk on-farm irrigation efficiency. The group should include representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Management and Budget.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Summary: Kissinger conveyed the President’s approval of Brownell’s proposed interim and permanent solutions to the Colorado River salinity issue. Kissinger instructed the Department of the Interior to prepare the legislation necessary to fulfill U.S. obligations under the anticipated agreement.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files, Box H–240, NSDM 218, Salinity Problem with Mexico. Confidential. Copies sent to the Secretaries of Defense and Agriculture; Administrator, EPA; Director, OMB; Chairman, Council on Environmental Quality; Chairman, AEC; and Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs. Scowcroft signed for Kissinger.