Mississippi River town mayors propose national drought policies

Mayors of towns along the Mississippi River are proposing improvements to national drought policy as they battle the worst drought in thirty years.

Greenville, Mississippi Mayor Errick Simmons is co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI). He says the group has developed seven policy proposals to be considered by the national drought resilience partnership:

  1. Award federal disaster declarations to states for drought
  2. Allow cities to spend FEMA funds addressing drought impacts
  3. Make drought mitigation a spending priority for Jobs Act grants
  4. Develop national incentives for manufacturers to build-out water recycling
  5. Allow for more adaptive multi-watershed management so river systems can be managed at basin scale to mitigate for climate impact
  6. Allow farmers and land owners to be compensates for voluntarily rotating acreage out of irrigation to alleviate drought
  7. Make agricultural credits for climate mitigation available under TITLE II, Subtitle C of the Inflation Reduction Act available for drought resilience activities.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri Mayor Stacy Kinder says some of the biggest hits are to agriculture as barge transportation slows during harvest.

“The Mississippi River moves more than $164 billion in agricultural exports annually. This drought is affecting 40% of that revenue.”

Kimswick, Missouri Mayor Phil Stang puts the situation into perspective.

“If I could show you a picture, right now I am standing on a dock, and it is more like a cliff than a dock at the moment. Floods we can manage, but with droughts everyone loses.”  

MRCTI members say there has been considerable progress made in developing the science and monitoring of drought, but there has been little movement in achieving drought resilience.

The mayors made their remarks during a virtual press conference Tuesday.

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