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Richardson retreats on sharing Midwest water

After receiving stinging criticism in Michigan and Wisconsin over statements that the Great Lakes are "awash in water" that could help the dry West, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson has taken back his recent remark.

After receiving stinging criticism in Michigan and Wisconsin over statements that the Great Lakes are "awash in water" that could help the dry West, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson has taken back his recent remark.

"Richardson in no way proposes federal transfers of water from one region of the nation to the other," his press secretary, Tom Reynolds, said in a statement Saturday. "Richardson believes firmly in keeping water in its basin of origin and of the rights of states to oversee water distribution."

The statement noted that in New Mexico as governor he has started initiatives on water conservation and investments in water production.

Richardson last week told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper during a campaign trip to Nevada, which has serious water shortages, that he favors a national water summit to get water-rich northern states to talk about sharing water with the West.

While that might be popular in Nevada, it struck a nerve in the Midwest. "Hell no," Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Friday.

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Monday, a spokeswoman said Granholm was pleased with Richardson's turnabout.

"It just underscores why we're pushing for the Great Lakes Water (Resources) Compact," multistate legislation that would prevent such diversions, Megan Brown said.

-- Copyright © 2007, Detroit Free Press / Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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