PADDLING FOR WATER: Alstonville’s Steve Posselt has embarked on another long-distance kayak trip to raise awareness of water issues.
PADDLING FOR WATER: Alstonville’s Steve Posselt has embarked on another long-distance kayak trip to raise awareness of water issues.

Posselt back in his kayak

ALSTONVILLE water engineer Steve Posselt is paddling a kayak to raise awareness of a wasted resource that’s simply going down the drain – and leading to the draining of the nation’s rivers.

The solution, he says, is to make use of potable recycled water from sewerage systems.

Mr Posselt left home last Thursday with a support crew to head to Echuca where he began a 16-day paddle upstream along the Murray River, and then upstream along the Goulburn River, a 65km cross-country trek, and then a final 100km paddle downstream on the Yarra to Melbourne.

His aim in completing the 500km journey is get to Victorians to put a stop to the continued construction of a pipeline that will take water from the Murray River to provide drinking water for the Victorian capital.

Along the Murray, he will paddling about 6km/h upstream with a downstream current of about 4km/h.
While construction has begun on the pipeline which is big enough for Mr Posselt to stand up in, his hope is that it will never be used.

He said the water is being ‘stolen’ from the Murray, a river which, from his 2007 3250km paddle along the length of the Murray-Darling Basin, he knows doesn’t reach the sea because the water is receding from its mouth.

“The greatest river in Australia doesn’t get to the end,” he said.

“And the people are going to take water out of that system through a pipeline that I can stand up in without ducking

“This is an appeal to Melbourne people to not steal the water.”

He said the conditions of rivers generally in Australia was ‘close to a catastrophe’. He wrote a book on his journey along the Darling, titled Cry me a river, which was launched in Ballina earlier this year.

The 2007 paddle was the first of two more which protested the proposal to dam the Mary River in Queensland to provide drinking water for Brisbane.

He kayaked 860km along the Mary River last year, and then completed a 940km ocean paddle from Brisbane to Sydney to deliver petitions against the damming of the Mary to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett.

Mr Posselt said Australia doesn’t need any more dams.

He said cities like Melbourne and Brisbane have more water fall on them through rain each year than the population drinks.

But that water disappears down the stormwater drains and ends up in the sewerage system.

Toowoomba council in recent times rejected a proposal to use recycled water for drinking water.

Mr Posselt said education was the key.

“Every bit of water you see has been around for millions of years,” he said.

“But there is still 20 per cent of the population that think God needs to have a hand in it (recycling the water).”

He said there was a ‘Magic Mile’ – if treated sewage water was pumped into a river, it was considered good enough to drink a mile downstream. That’s something which he said currently happened along the Murray River.

Mr Posselt has spent 35 years as a water engineer.

He said his realisation that some of the engineering works that have been completed have now ‘screwed up’ the river systems came about slowly, but began when he was involved in flood mitigation works on the Northern Rivers which created acid sulphate soil problems.

The 54-year-old is now keen to raise awareness of the poor condition of the country’s waterways through his long-distance paddles.

You can follow Mr Posselt’s voyage online at www.kayak4earth.com.

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