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Lyndon Johnson Administration: Statement on the Desalting of Sea Water

(July 27, 1964)

THE President has requested the Department of the Interior to collaborate with the Atomic Energy Commission, in consultation with the Office of Science and Technology, to develop a plan for "an aggressive and imaginative program" to advance progress in large-scale desalting of sea water.

The President, in making his request, noted that the Federal saline water conversion program has concentrated thus far on research, and development efforts have been limited. Substantial progress has been made, the President said, but much remains to be done and the greatest necessity is to advance the technology of large-scale desalting plants.

The President requested that the Interior Department submit a report to the Budget Bureau by September 11.

The President also announced that a three-man team from the Department of the Interior and the Atomic Energy Commission is leaving for Israel to begin joint discussions with Israeli representatives in Tel Aviv on July 27 on the desalting of sea water. This team is the outgrowth of a two-day meeting held in Washington on June 2 between President Johnson and Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol. A group will investigate the technical and economic feasibility of building a combined nuclear power and sea water desalting plant in Israel.

The United States representatives will be Milton Chase and Stewart Mulford of the Interior Department and Irving Spiewak, a nuclear reactor expert from the Atomic Energy Commission laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The President also announced that a one-week long international symposium on desalting of water will be held in Washington beginning October 3, 1965· The symposium will be sponsored by the Department of the Interior and the Department of State with the cooperation of the Agency for International Development and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

In his request to the Interior Department, the President said that every means should be explored to increase the momentum of desalting progress by exploiting the now best developed technology (evaporators), using conventional or nuclear fuels or both and by pursuing .other alternatives. He said the plan should provide for the full use of existing research and development facilities.

The President pointed out that a recent study made under the auspices of the Office of Science and Technology indicates that a combination of large-scale nuclear power plants and large-scale desalting plants could produce power and water at competitive costs by about 1975 in many water short coastal areas. He said the plan should propose the best strategy and time schedule for relating the development of large-scale nuclear power technology to the development of large-scale desalting technology.

The President also requested that full recognition should be given to the importance of sharing the benefits of American desalting technology with other nations.

Sources: Public Papers of the President