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its expense a lined bypass channel allowing Mexico to by pass around Morelos Dam the most saline Wellton-Mohawk drainage waters. This Minute remained in effect through 1971 until replaced in July of 1972 by a second agreement (Minute 241) which more than doubled the amount of water, 118,000 acre-feet, delivered to Mexico in addition to the Treaty deliveries. Minute 241 continued in effect until Minute 242 was approved on August 30, 1973.

The 1944 Water Treaty contains no explicit statement on the quality of the waters the United States is obligated to deliver, but it does provide that the guaranteed 1.5 million acre-feet shall be “waters of the Colorado River, from any and all sources ..." (Part III, Art. 10) and that “Such waters shall be made up of the waters of said River, whatever their origin ..." When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was considering the resolution proposing ratification of the Treaty in 1945, representatives of the State Department unequivocally assured the Senate that the proposed Treaty allowed the United States to deliver 1.5 million acie-feet, regardless of quality, even if the water was unusable by Mexico.

Since the beginning of this controversy, Mexico has claimed that it is entitled under the 1944 Treaty to insist that all of the million and one-half acre-feet delivered must of of a quality usable for irrigation, but has recently claimed that that quality must be no worse than the quality enjoyed by the last major diversion from the Colorado River in the United States, Imperial Dam.

On June 17, 1972, after a meeting in Washington, D.C., President Nixon and President Echeverria of Mexico issued a Joint Communique in which it was promised that" a permanent, definitive and just” solution to the international salinity problem would be promptly recommended by a special representative to be named by President Nixon. The Honorable Herbert Brownell was later named special representative and he headed a task force of Federal agency personnel who made an intensive study of the problem in late 1972. Mr. Brownell reported his proposals to President Nixon on December 28, 1972.

His recommendation for permanent solution consisted principally of a desalting plant so sized and sited as to be able to desalinate a large portion of the WelltonMohawk Project return flows. After authorization but prior to operation of the desalting plant, the United States would provide Mexico with the same quality benefits as those to be produced by the plant by discharging all Wellton-Mohawk drainage water below Morelos Dam and replacing it with Colorado River water. Ambassador Brownell's recommendation for interim solution involved the lining or construction of a new 49 mile section of the Coachella Canal in California in order to salvage approximately 130,000 acre-feet per year now lost through seepage. During the interim period, the water salvaged would be used by the United States to offset in part the extra deliveries to Mexico occasioned by the waste of all Wellton-Mohawk return flows. The interim period would end when the Secretary of the Interior determines that it is necessary to reduce Colorado River deliveries to California water agencies.

Thereafter, negotiations were initiated with Mexico with the objective of executing a permanent Minute that would embody Mr. Brownell's recommendations in terms satisfactory to both countries. On August 30, 1973, Minute 242 was signed in Mexico City by representatives of both countries.

Point 1(a) of Minute 242 provides that the United States “shall adopt measures to assure” that the waters delivered to Mexico in the Colorado River upstream of Morelos Dam (the principal Mexican point of diversion for irrigation in the Mexicali Valley) shall have “an annual average salinity of no more than 115 ppm plus or minus 30 ppm” over the salinity of waters arriving at Imperial Dam upstream. It further provides that the measures the United States must adopt to effect this salinity guarantee shall be taken not earlier than January 1, 1974, and no later than July 1, 1974. Point 1(e) subjects “implementation of the measures referred to in Point 1(a)” to the requirement in Point 10 of the Minute concerning notification of Congressional authorization of the necessary works. We will return to the question of the effective date of the obligation of Point 1(a) later in this discussion.

The guarantee that the quality of the mainstream Colorado River waters delivered above. Morelos Dam will not exceed the quality of waters diverted at Imperial Dam in the United States by more than an annual average of 115 ppm plus or minus 30 parts, constitutes a commitment unprecedented so far as we know in international law. It concedes to a downstream riparian nation that an upstream riparian will take, at its own expense, whatever measures may be necessary to protect the downstream nation beyond a certain guaranteed relationship, from the increasing salinity inevitably resulting from the application of water to beneficial use in the upstream nation. Implementation of this guarantee in Point 1(a) will require the construction of a desalting plant, and the Coachella Canal lining, as recommended by Mr. Brownell. Sections 101 and 102 of H.R. 12165 would provide the necessary authorization.

The present "state of the art” in the technology of desalting brine waters assures recovery of only 70% treated waters. The Committee of Fourteen believes strongly that every possible emphasis and support should be given by the United States to a strengthened research program aimed at incre ing the recovery rate to at least 90% of treated water, and we are assured by knowledgeable personnel in the Office of Saline Water that it is reasonable to hope that this objective is realizable in the near future. Later in our presentation we will propose an amendment to H.R. 12165 that would authorize continued research to effect greater recovery.

In any event, the Basin States, faced with an already over-appropriated River, cannot accept any permanent loss of Colorado Basin water resources in the form of unusable brines or losses resulting from inoperability of the desalting plant or other causes, and it is, therefore, imperative that the United States assume and effectuate an obligation to replace at its cost any water loss caused by operation of the proposed desalination plant.

Because of the very real energy shortage in the Basin, we also must have a federal commitment that the substantial electric power demand of the desalination plant will not be supplied by reducing or diverting energy now supplied to preference customers of the Bureau of Reclamation generation plant in the Basin. This commitment is expressed in Sec. 101(b)(2) of H.R. 12165.

Point 2 of Minute 242 provides that from September 1, 1973, "until the provisions of Point 1(a) become effective .." the United States shall deliver 118,000 acre-feet annually of other higher quality waters in substitution for an equal amount of bypassed drainage waters from the Wellton-Mohawk district, with the understanding that Mexico would continue to voluntarily bypass all other Wellton-Mohawk drainage waters without receiving substitution waters in lieu thereof. This in effect continues the arrangements of Minute 241 on an interim basis until “the provisions of Point 1(a) become effective . .

Point 3 of the Minute requires the United States at its own expense to extend the lined bypass channel to the international boundary, and Point 4 requires that the bypass channel be extended from the international boundary to the Gulf of California on Mexican territory, although at United States expense.

Point 5 provides that until a comprehensive agreement on groundwater in the border area is concluded by the parties, each country must limit groundwater pumping within a five-mile zone along the international boundary to an annual total of 160,000 acre-feet. This groundwater agreement is a response to the situation created by Mexico's recent unilateral decision to drill and begin pumping a well field immediately south of the international boundary. We understand that during the international negotiations leading up to Minute 242, the United States negotiators objected to this unilateral change in the status quo in respect to groundwater developments in the border area because it is clear as a matter of hydrology that the new Mexican groundwater developments will steepen the gradient of groundwater flow from the United States into Mexico unless a compensating United States groundwater development is initiated. Studies made for the International Water and Boundary Commission indicate that it will be necessary to pump in the United States approximately 160,000 acre-feet per year within five miles of the Arizona-Sonora boundary to protect against the loss of surface and groundwaters to Mexico as a result of pumping by the Mexican governement in the vicinity of San Luis. These same studies also reveal that as a result of the combined pumping by the two governments the San Luis drain will dry up and the waters pumped by the United States will be required to maintain deliveries of 140,000 acre-feet per year to Mexico across the boundary at San Luis as has been our practice over the years and as is permitted in Minute 242.

In 1964 the Department of the Interior in promulgating the Southwest Water Plan proposed the recovery of 220,000 acre-feet per year of groundwaters in the Yuma area. The Mexican government protested vigorously. State Department opposition developed quickly and Interior abandoned the plan except for the development of the wells on the Yuma Mesa required to provide 60,000 acre-feet per year of substitution waters to asisst in meeting the requirements of Minute 241. Without the knowledge of the states, the Mexican government moved quickly to undertake the development of the San Luis well field.

The Committee of Fourteen urged the negotiating team to make resolution of the problem posed by Mexico's pumping a condition of United States agreement to a solution of the salinity problem. Two alternatives were available that would have left interests of the Basin States as they were prior to the initiation of pumping in the San Luis well field and would have been without cost to the states. First and most logical would have been insistence by the United States that Mexico accept as a charge against its Treaty allotment all waters drawn from the United States by the San Luis well field. Failing this, the Mexican government would have the option of limiting the amount of water pumped annually at the San Luis well field to an amount which the two governments would agree would have a negligible impact on U.S. water supplies.

The Mexican government, we are told, would not negotiate on the basis of either of these two alternatives. Point 5 of Minute 242 simply allows the United States to resort to protective pumping in response to Mexico's recent development. The Committee was and is skeptical of the wisdom of giving implicit legal sanction to Mexico's unilateral act, and of the wisdom of requiring the United States to pump groundwater in self-protection, at considerable expense, and then ultimately to deliver the same water to Mexico in the Colorado River.

If continuing negotiations on groundwaters are not successful in achieving agreement by the Mexican government to accept ground and surface waters drawn from the United States by the San Luis well field as a charge against the Treaty allotment or to limit pumpage at the well field to an amount that would have a negligible effect on U.S. waters; then as provided by Sec. 103 of H.R. 12165 the protective groundwater program must be undertaken entirely without cost or injury to the Basin States, in terms of money, power and water resources. We believe that the government must prepare to undertake this responsibility as it is difficult to imagine success in the negotiations now that Mexico has her objective, the salinity guarantee, within reach and is already fully committed to the pumping of 160,000 acre-feet annually from the San Luis well field.

In Point 6 of the Minute, both countries agreed to consult on future groundwater developments, and in Point 7, the United States promises to support efforts by Mexico to obtain favorable financing for the improvement of the Mexicali Valley and also promises an unstated amount of non-reimbursable" assistance for Mexican rehabilitation programs in the Mexicali Valley relating to the salinity program. Point 8 unequivocally recognizes Minute 242 as constituting "the permanent and definitive solution of the salinity problem” promised in the Joint Communique of June 17, 1972. Point 9 is a promise by the United States to implement the necessary "measures” at the earliest practical date. Point 10 makes the entire Minute "enter into force” upon approval by the two governments, with the proviso that “the provisions which are dependent for their implementation on construction of works or on other measures which require expenditure of funds by the United States, shall become effective upon the notification by the United States to Mexico of the authorization by the United States Congress of said funds. ...” It will be remembered that Point 1(e) subjected implementation of the salinity relationship guarantee in Point 1(a) to this proviso of Point 10.

The Committee of Fourteen is convinced that, when all the provisions of the Minute are read together, they must be interpreted to mean that the salinity relationship guarantee cannot become a legal obligation of the United States, and therefore cannot be effectuated, until Congress has enacted appropriate legislation (i.e. authorizing the desalting plant at Wellton-Mohawk and the lining of the Coachella Canal). The Administration has confirmed this understanding in its February 7, 1974, letters to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, wherein it is stated that “under the agreement Mexico will not receive further improvement in its water until the Congress enacts enabling legislation.” Of course, the authorization of these measures alone does not meet the requirements of the Basin States; unless satisfactory assurances on groundwater pumping and replacement of brine and operational losses are also enacted, we would face serious injury from implementation of Minute 242.

The legislation proposed by the Administration (H.R. 12834) falls short in the following significant respects in meeting the salinity problems of the Colorado River and in protecting the Colorado River Basin States against the concessions granted Mexico in Minute 242:

1. It fails to recognize that the salt problem is basin wide and that the control program must also be basin wide if present salinities in the River are to be maintained as the Basin States develop their remaining entitlements.

2. It fails to include necessary appropriations for the Coachella Canal lining feature. Lining of the Coachella Canal is a critical element of the program and must be authorized and implemented on schedule if the states are to be protected. Its fate should not be left to a separate action by the Congress.

3. It fails to provide for authorization and implementation of the groundwater pumping program to protect against loss of U.S. waters as a result of pumping by the Mexican government at the newly installed San Luis well field.

4. While the Administration in H.R. 12834 recognizes the government's responsibility to replace operational and reject waters from the desalting plant, actual replacement is tied to the provisions of Sec. 202 of the Colorado River Basin Project Act, which provisions recognize the entire Mexican Treaty burden on the Colorado River as a national responsibility, effective upon augmentation of the Colorado River in the amount of 2.5 million acre-feet per year. To ask the states to wait for relief on desalter losses until 2.5 million acre-feet per year have been added to the River would be unreasonable, especially in light of the fact that the Office of Management and Budget has squashed or seriously maimed all studies in progress or prospect to determine means of augmenting the Colorado River in such amounts.

5. It is silent on the issue of source of power for the desalting plant and the protective pumping although there is some mention of the problem as it relates to the power needs of the desalting plant in the accompanying section-by-section analysis.

The Committee of Fourteen believes that Minute 242 makes concessions to Mexico beyond the contemplation of the Treaty; nevertheless, we would like to be able to help the United States honor the promises made in Minute 242. For this reason, we believe that the water users of the Colorado River Basin, and all the people of the United States will be best served by the enactment of H.R. 12165, which provides the necessary authorizations and appropriations for the construction of the desalting plant and the lining of the Coachella Canal, along with the necessary commitments and authorizations calculated to avert water loss to the Basin States and to protect their water users from increasing salinity.

Throughout the period of studies made by the Brownell Task Force as well as the period of negotiations with Mexico leading to Minute 242, Mr. Brownell assured the Committee of Fourteen that it was his cardinal principle that no water user within the seven Basin States suffer any injury by reason of the negotiation or implementation of Minute 242. We believe that the pending legislation with the amendments subsequently cited is the appropriate vehicle for insuring that this commitment of the United States to the Basin States will be redeemed.

Part II The Colorado River has experienced a long-term increase in salinity. All recent investigations by federal and state agencies show that the salinity of the river will continue to increase as a result of necessary increases in use of water in this watershort area of the United States unless a major basinwide salinity control program is undertaken.

The projected increase in salinity will affect water users in the Colorado River Basin in the United States and in the Republic of Mexico. It is estimated that by the turn of the century, unless the rise in the river's salinity is checked, economic detriments in the United States, both direct and indirect, will increase by about $80 million annually (unless otherwise stated, values related to costs and effects of salinity are based upon work of the Colorado River Board of California). The river's increasing adverse salinity must be expected to affect our relations with Mexico.

The strong federal commitment to salinity control for the Colorado River Basin is evidenced by statements made by top officials representing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and the State Department. The Bureau of Reclamation has established a Colorado River Basin office in Denver and has prepared a status report on the projects and studies to be authorized in Title II of H.R. 12165.

Before discussing the program called for in Title II of H.R. 12165, we would like to briefly summarize the background of increasing salinity on the Colorado


The Colorado River begins in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, travels 1,400 miles through seven basin states and Mexico, and ends in the Gulf of California. The river basin covers 244,000 square miles, including parts of seven states and Mexico. A wide variation in climatic conditions exists, from hot arid desert regions to cold arid plateaus and valleys at high elevations in the northern portions of the basin. These wide variations result in as little as a 90-day growing season in many of the northern valleys to year-round cropping in the lower desert areas. Approximately 2.4 million acres are irrigated within the basin, and thousands of acres are also irrigated with water exported from the basin.

The Colorado River Basin has a population of about 2.25 million people. Within the basin, the regional economy is based on irrigated agriculture, mining, forestry, manufacturing, oil and gas production, and tourism. The impact of the river extends far beyond the basin. Water from the river serves the southern California, Denver, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque areas. With the completion of the Central Arizona Project now under way, the Phoenix and Tucson areas will also be served. Approximately 12 million people in the United States receive supplemental water supplies from the Colorado. About one-half million people and 425,000 irrigated acres in Mexico are served with Colorado River water. The map on the following page shows the entire Colorado River Basin, the locations of the four projects authorized in Title II, the location of the projects for which planning reports will be prepared under Title II, and the works to be authorized under Title I of H.R. 12165.


The Colorado River has a large dissolved mineral load resulting in salt concentrations higher than most major rivers. The salinity, which is already approaching critical levels in some areas of the Basin, is expected to go higher without corrective measures.

Causes of river salinity Two basic processes cause salinity increases in streams. These processes are salt loading, and salt concentrating. They can act separately or together to increase the salinity in streams.

Both natural phenomena and man's actions account for the river's salinity. The primary source of dissolved salt is the saline shale formations that occur throughout much of the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Natural sources Natural sources of salt may be classified as point and diffuse. Point sources include springs or small streams within a relatively small area. Diffuse natural sources are salt accretions from large drainage areas.

About 20 percent of the naturally occurring salts issue from mineral saline springs and seeps throughout the basin. Annually, an estimated 900,000 tons are added in the Upper Basin and 700,000 tons are added in the Lower Basin from these sources.

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