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N.M. governor Richardson under fire over Great Lakes water comments

By Karyn Chenoweth Oct 14, 2007, 1:25 GMT

N.M. governor Richardson under fire over Great Lakes water comments

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson reponds to a question during a debate held at Dartmouth College in Hanover New Hampshire USA 26 September 2007. EPA/CJ GUNTHER

Record drought in Georgia and the American west have sparked a war of words over water.

Comments made by New Mexico Gov. and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson last week continue to reverberate among government and conservation officials in Wisconsin, Michigan and other northern and mid-west states that circle the Great Lakes.

CNN reports that Richardson told a Las Vegas newspaper that he would bring northern states into the discussion of how to help water-starved states in the Southwest solve their shortage problems.

"I believe the Western states and Eastern states have not been talking to each other when it comes to proper use of our water resources," he told the Las Vegas Sun.

"I want a national water policy. We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water."

The water levels of the Great Lakes have dropped, and local politicians have lashed out at the proposed "water-sharing" plans of Richardson.

Lake Superior's September average level was 1.6 inches lower than the previous record for the month set in 1926. Huron and Michigan are losing water three times faster than previously believed, according to a study by a Canadian homeowners group.

"Don't get us wrong. Mr. Richardson and his constituents in New Mexico are welcome to reasonable use of Great Lakes water," said Hugh McDiarmid Jr. of the Michigan Environmental Council, in a press release Thursday. "All they have to do is move to the Great Lakes region. They'll be free to enjoy all our best beaches, trout streams and great-tasting municipal water."

Reporter Jim Lynch of the Detroit News reports that U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, called for a congressional hearing on the factors contributing to the declining lake levels.

"It's outrageous, but not surprising," Miller said of Richardson's comments. "I've heard members of Congress from that part of the country express similar sentiments, so we need to be extremely vigilant.

"The unfortunate reality is we are continuing to lose political clout with each census update. And a lot of that clout is going to places in the Southwest."



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