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391 Statement by the President on the Continuing Water Crisis in the
Northeastern States. August 19, 1966
A YEAR AGO the Northeastern United States was threatened with disaster as a result of 4 years of unprecedented drought. To map out a plan of action, I met with the Governors and mayors concerned.
We laid out a five-point plan.
First, I took action to declare as a drought disaster area the portions of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware within the Delaware River Basin and its service area.
Second, I authorized emergency action to meet the critical water crisis in northern New Jersey.
Third, we reached agreement on a “strategic water bank" for reserve use of New York or Philadelphia, as determined by the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Fourth, provision was made for speeding up construction of the Philadelphia-Torresdale water intake.
Finally, and in many ways more important, the Governors and the mayors of the drought-stricken areas increased their efforts to conserve their existing water supplies.
In addition, Federal agencies have provided continuing assistance to both urban and rural drought-stricken communities.
The drought has continued. June and July of this year have been especially hot and dry. The drought region now extends along the east coast from New England to Virginia and into West Virginia and Tennessee. The Potomac River at Washington reached record low flows early in August.
Even so, the amount of water stored in reservoirs in the drought region is substantially above that at the end of July 1965. This
improvement is due in part to higher runoff during the past winter and spring. However, major credit must be given to better management, widespread conservation measures, and positive actions at all levels of government.
General rains in the last few days averaging about 1 inch over the drought area offer hope for eventual alleviation of the drought situation. But it will take a prolonged period of above normal rainfall to overcome the accumulated effects of 5 years of drought. We must continue our management and conservation measures and stand ready to take immediate action if the drought should become
Therefore, I am extending to March 15, 1967, the drought disaster declaration for certain portions of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
I am asking all Federal agencies, the States, cities, and the Delaware River Basin Commission to continue their careful water management and conservation programs until the drought-relieving effects of next winter's snows can be predicted.
I am asking the Water Resources Council to continue its surveillance of the drought and in consultation with the affected States to recommend any further emergency action that may be necessary.
NOTE: The President met with the Governors and mayors affected by the water crisis in the Northeastern States on August 11 and again on August 18, 1965 (see 1965 volume, this series, Book II, Items 418, 434). The original drought disaster declaration, announced at the second of these meetings, expired on August 18, 1966.
The President's statement was released in Buffalo, N.Y., where he was beginning a 3-day trip to New York and New England.
392 Remarks in Buffalo on Beginning a 3-Day Trip in New York and
New England. August 19, 1966
Governor Rockefeller, Congressman McCarthy, Congressman Dulski, Congressman Smith, Mayor Sedita, Mr. Crangle, ladies and gentlemen:
I always enjoy coming to Buffalo and this great area of the State of New York.
I want to particularly thank Governor Rockefeller and the Congressmen from this area, the distinguished Mayor, the county chairman and all of the good citizens of all religions, of all races, of all parties, for the wonderful welcome that they have given me here this afternoon.
We have come here to look at a very important part of this great land of ours. We will be in 5 States in the next 3 days.
And before the leaves begin to turn brown, we will be in many more. We will be looking, we will be listening, and I suspect we will be talking some of the time.
I wish everyone could get the kind of look at the land that we will be getting in the next 3 days. A look at people as well as places.
We are not here this afternoon to look at an America that is without problems, but what we see here is not an America of only problems.
In a few minutes we are going to be on a Coast Guard cutter to see the pollution at Lake Erie that Max McCarthy talked about. Max is a man who has loved Lake Erie since he was a boy and who went to Congress determined to clean up this lake. He is one of the brightest and ablest young Congressmen, and I am having trouble keeping up with him with my own program.
Ted Dulski is the people's Congressman. He was born over here on the east side of Buffalo and he is a man who knows and understands human beings and their needs.
And I am very happy that Congressman Henry Smith, a distinguished Republican, a former judge, came with me today because he has rendered outstanding service on the Judiciary Committee.
I know that you have a great mayor. I know at least he is great with numbers, and I appreciate that very generous estimate he gave us this afternoon.
And Mr. Crangle, for whatever you had to do with this crowd I salute you, sir.
Now there is certainly a problem that we have to deal with. A problem for the people, not just of Buffalo, but of Cleveland and Toledo.
It is a problem we are facing, but a problem that our States and cities must face so that this great inland sea will sparkle again some of these days.
Like so many of our problems, the pollution of Lake Erie is a result of our abundance. It has been caused by the great industrial might of Buffalo and Cleveland and Toledo, and a dozen other cities.
That industrial might has helped to create the kind of good life which so many people enjoy in Buffalo. It has given us good homes that we own, and cars and sailboats and powerboats and steel for schools and the economic abundance to pay schoolteachers, and the ability to use that abundance to help improve our cities and to help more Americans earn what many Americans already have.
But for the first time, we are attacking head-on the massive problems of water pollution in the United States and I am glad to come here this afternoon and enlist under that banner.
The steady decline of Lake Erie is one pollution problem which I know has a spe
cial meaning to every person here.
What happens to Lake Erie will alone affect the lives of 25 million people in the State of New York, in the land of the United States, and in our neighbor, Canada.
So, Lake Erie just must be saved. And if we work together-the Federal Government, the State governments, the towns, the cities, and the local communities—we can save Lake Erie.
We are taking a first major step today in that campaign to save Lake Erie. The Department of the Interior of the United States Government is today giving the green light to the Rand Development Corporation for the construction, right here on the shores of Lake Erie, of an entirely new type of filter system in the United States.
This system will at once prevent raw pollutants from entering your lake and it will purify at an economical cost the water that does reach it.
This is the first construction contract awarded under the authority given to us by the Water Quality Act of 1965 which I sponsored.
It will be in effect on Lake Erie, now, within a matter of a very few weeks.
The Great Lakes constitute the largest body of fresh water on the surface of the earth. They have nurtured the growth of two great nations. So, today, I am proud to say that we are on our way toward restoring this precious international asset to a pure condition.
We can have the industrial might of Lake Erie and we can have a Lake Erie where people can swim and where they can fish, and where they can sail. We can have both, we should have both-and we are going to have both.
So, we come here to work for pure water and for productive industry, for good earn
ings and leisure so that people can enjoy nature; for conservation efforts so there will be nature to enjoy. We are looking for economic progress so people can afford automobiles, and for modern highways so they can travel without endless traffic jams.
And this is what we see in America today: a powerful drive to clean up the very problems that our progress has created. So much of American ugliness and impurity, so much of the contradictions of American life, are caused by just this: the eager and aggressive spirit by which we tamed this continent of
These are the two sides of America that we expect to see on this trip we are just beginning.
We will be looking at the problems, so many of which our own vigor has created, but we will know that this vigor has also created a society that is unmatched in human history.
I am taking this trip not only to see New York, but I am taking it to see New England. Because it is every President's duty to tell the people about his program and to go out and exchange views with them—and here we are and we are so glad to see you here today.
I particularly want to thank all the members of the New York delegation who could come with me today, both Democrats and Republicans. I am sorry that our two United States Senators, Senator Javits and Senator Kennedy, who had planned to be here, could not come, because they are today fighting on the floor of the United States Senate for the demonstration cities bill which will be of such great importance to every city in the United States.
But I want to talk to you this afternoon about a program that has touched the lives of millions of Americans.
The Psalms say, "Cast me not off in the time of old age." And we are taking that literally.
A few years ago, almost one in two older Americans had little or no financial protection against the high cost of illness. This was the greatest single threat to their economic security. But it also threatened the economic security of Americans who were faced with the harsh decision of paying for parents' hospital bills or for a child's tuition.
The action we took to meet this problem, just a few months ago in the Congress, was Medicare.
After more than 30 years of national debate in the United States, 19 million older Americans have now crossed the line from the shadows of uncertainty to the land of security.
Medicare has brought basic coverage for hospital costs, it has brought us home health. services after hospitalization, it has brought us outpatient diagnostic services, and it has brought us skilled care in our nursing homes.
Nine out of ten of our older people have signed up for the voluntary medical insurance protection. They now pay $3 a month for this coverage and the Federal Government matches them dollar for dollar.
Every year 100,000 bright young people could not go to college after high school because they simply did not have the money. Others already in college dropped out for the same reason.
They lost, and so did the Nation lose. And each one of them gave up almost $170,000 in the additional earnings that they would have made, if they had gone to college. So this Nation not only lost millions of dollars in productivity, but it lost a very important asset: It lost better educated citizens throughout this great land.
The action we took in the Congress to meet this problem was the act that we spon
sored called the higher education act of 1965.
So now more than 400,000 students in colleges and universities all over America receive loans under the Higher Education program. Two hundred thousand students have been able to work part time because of the work provided by that law.
When classes open in September, two more new programs are going to take effect. Opportunity grants will help 135,000 additional students. And more than a half a million students will borrow more than $600 million to help them stay in college next
The cruel truth of education today is that too many underprivileged schools serve too many underprivileged children. Cultural and economic poverty erode the ability of poor children to learn. And slow learners have little opportunity of catching up.
And that is why 11 times as many poor children are too old for their grade; that is why 6 times as many fail their elementary school subjects; and that is why I out of every 3 drops out of school before he gets through the fifth grade.
The action we took was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965another great law passed by another great Congress for a great people, the people of the United States.
And now 7 million deprived children have been given intense courses in reading and writing. The handicapped and the disturbed have been able to go to special classes. More than 3 million have had extra attention during the summer months.
Because low income often means little medical care and little dental care, it also means too much illness. More than twice as many poor adults suffer chronic ailments as those who earn a good income. Twice as many poor children grow up with serious
ear and eye defects as more fortunate children, and half as many more poor children grow up crippled. Six out of ten children from low-income families have never gone to a dentist.
What action could we take to deal with problems like this? Well, we took action with the Social Security Amendments of 1965.
Within less than a year, more than a dozen States-including New York-have already launched new medical programs. Twenty other States will follow by the end of this year. They will make it possible for more. than 8 million needy Americans to receive medical service. And half of these 8 million will be 4 million of our children.
Now these are just a few of the health and the education and the pollution problems that face America. And these are just a few of the examples of the things that your Congress and your governments, State and Federal, have been trying to do to help. These are just some of the efforts that we are making to solve the problems that confront the people of this country.
That is why I am proud that you responded 2 years ago when I came to Niagara Square and asked the people of Buffalo to help us get going, help us start moving, help us get a greater society in this land of ours.
You did help. You helped give us the most productive and the most creative Congress in the history of our country.
The men there, on both sides of the aisle, have worked with statesmanship and patriotism.
American history textbooks talk about the action Congresses. They talk about the Congress of Theodore Roosevelt, they talk about the Congress of Woodrow Wilson, they talk about the Congresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. And they were action Congresses.
But let me tell you this afternoon that the lawmakers in Washington today have enacted more important legislation, have faced up to more national problems, have presented more solutions to those problems, have helped more people than any other five Congresses put together in the entire history of this Nation.
Now what are the results? What is the impact?
Well, I haven't come here to talk party politics. But I have come to talk about the problems of our country, the problems of all parties. And I am here to say that in the last 10 years we have tripled our Federal assistance to State and local governments from $4 billion a year to $14 billion a year. In the last 3 years our most essential programs-health, education, labor, welfare, housing, community development-have risen by more than $6 billion as a result of what these good Congressmen that sit on this platform have done for you.
Money and laws, of course, are not the final answer to all of democracy's needs. To pass a law is not to achieve a final result. To spend money is not to guarantee success. We will need more of each, but we must never forget that our most essential resource is invisible: It is our bond as citizens of the same Nation, it is as members of the same human family.
It is this bond that compels us to seek new ways of relieving our brother's plight. It is this bond that makes it impossible to quit the fight for an even greater America. For as long as one of our fellow citizens—as long as any one of our fellow citizens—is in distress, as long as one member of our family is in need, we must be concerned, we must persevere, we must do something about it. And this, I pledge you this afternoon, we are going to do as long as I am your President.