St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman joined a coalition of Mississippi River mayors on Tuesday in announcing new environmental goals and standards for river city communities.
The river compact is intended to create “best practices” for cities around the world to voluntarily adopt.
The aim of the mayors’ compact is to have “consistent, measurable goals” in place so “that all of us are measuring the same rate,” said Coleman, in a conference call with reporters from Paris on Tuesday.
More than “20 million people draw their drinking water daily from the Mississippi River,” the mayor said.
Coleman, a credentialed observer at the international COP21 climate change conference in Paris, is leading a delegation from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.
Five mayor members of the Initiative signed the agreement — Coleman, Mayor Roy Buol of Dubuque, Iowa; Mayor Dave Kleis of St. Cloud; Mayor Larry “Butch” Brown of Natchez, Miss.; and Mayor Mitchell Landrieu of New Orleans.
The mayors held a series of talks in partnership with the UN Environment Program, the International Network of Basin Organizations, the International Society for River Science, and ecoAmerica.
The river initiative and its partners developed the compact to fight climate change in cooperation with the International Network of Basin Organizations.
The agreement seeks to “protect surface and ground waters to ensure food security and access to drinking water” and sets specific goals, such as developing a robust water-monitoring strategy that tracks pollutants and nutrient loading; expanding water treatment facilities to increase capacity; installing urban catch-basins to filter runoff before it reaches rivers, streams and lakes; adding natural areas back to river shores in and adjacent to cities; and installing cover crops, rotating fields and creating agricultural easements.
More than 35 percent of the world’s traditional cropland is located within major global-river basins, and the Mississippi River basin ranks first in production capacity, according to the river initiative.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.