On 24 June 1974, President Nixon issued a statement about the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act, a bill meant to improve water quality for both United States and Mexico residents of the Colorado River basin. Since the early 1960s, various development projects in the United States Colorado River basin had been increasing the salinity of the river and therefore increasing the salinity of the water that flowed into Mexico from the Colorado River. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to ameliorate the condition of the Colorado River basin over the previous decade, President Nixon and President Echeverria of Mexico came to a joint decision that a more permanent and satisfactory solution was necessary. Because the problem had originated from American soil, RN took the initiative to search for and to produce a solution.
In June 1972, during his visit to this country, I gave President Echeverria my personal commitment that every effort would be made to find a mutually satisfactory solution to this problem. I appointed Ambassador Herbert Brownell as my special representative to study alternative ways of resolving the problem. The plan recommended by Ambassador Brownell and approved by me formed the basis of an agreement with the Mexican Government and would be implemented through those measures included in this bill. This permanent and definitive solution to the salinity problem was accepted over others because it represents an equitable arrangement for the water users in the Mexicali Valley, while not creating adverse effects on current and planned use of the resources of the Colorado River by the seven basin States within the United States.
RN viewed the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act as a victory for his foreign policy goals, but he had some misgivings about the results the bill would have at home. He considered some of the projects proposed by Congress in this bill to be premature and he did not approve of the financial arrangements for the bill as they were at odds with the fiscal policies of his administration. Even though he signed the bill, RN advised Congress to consider the Colorado River basin projects unfinished business until more effective means of water purification and pollution control could be found.