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Mayors from 41 Mississippi River communities are gathering in St. Louis in hopes of coming up with ways to ensure and improve the sustainability of the nation's longest waterway.

The inaugural, 3-day meeting of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative begins Thursday.

Organizers say the Mighty Mississippi plays a key role in providing drinking water, moving commodities and supplies. They hope to enlist state and federal partners in the effort to keep it vibrant.

Among those scheduled to attend are mayors from such cities as St. Louis; Memphis; Davenport, Iowa; and St. Cloud, Minn.

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