A group of Mississippi River mayors from the middle of the U.S. — including St. Paul’s Chris Coleman and St. Cloud’s Dave Kleis — are in Paris for the climate change talks and are part of an agreement with other international river areas to protect crops and water.
The members of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative said the pact will mitigate climate impact to the world’s food and freshwater supply.
Coleman, co-chair of the U.S. Mississippi group, said in the statement from France:
One of the greatest climate change threats to the world is a dramatic alteration to our food supply and decrease of freshwater. Since the Mississippi River basin tops the list in food production, we saw the development of an international sustainability agreement imperative to saving river basins—including ours—from climate change and major population growth. This agreement provides a watershed moment for the world’s waterways.
The agreement was signed by a network of river basin organizations and includes these planks:
- developing a robust water monitoring strategy that tracks flows as well as pollutant and nutrient loading;
- expanding water treatment facilities to increase capacity and reduce the use of combined sewer overflow systems;
- installing urban catch-basins to filter runoff before it reaches rivers, streams, and lakes
- renaturing areas in and adjacent to cities;
- renaturing main-stem and tributary river banks throughout intense agricultural zones;
- employing sustainable agricultural practices such as installation of cover crops and field rotation techniques, use of low flow irrigation, formation of tiered fields, planting of riparian borders, setting of conservation easements, incorporation of integrated pest management techniques, and restoration of forests, grasslands, and river ecosystems.