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Menindee fish-kill an exercise in delusion

Cry Me A River - cover
Cry Me A River – the Murray Darling basin through the eyes of a water engineer

When Steve Posselt dragged and paddled his kayak down the Darling and Murray rivers from Toowoomba to the Murray mouth, he specifically set out to understand the impact of drought on the river system.

In the resulting book, Cry Me A River, he records the conversations he had with farmers, irrigators, mayors and water engineers along the length of the river system. In the process he came to two simple but alarming conclusions.

Firstly, any water stored in open storage is rapidly lost. The rate of evaporation in western NSW is more than a metre every year –  it has regularly exceeded 1600mm in recent years – where rainfall is less than half a metre each year, generally closer to 100mm a year. The rate of evaporation in Bourke, for instance, is about 2000mm per year. Average rainfall, not counting climate change, is less than 400mm per year. That is a deficit of more than a metre and a half per year of all water in storages. They are, in effect, evaporation ponds.

The corollary of this is that the safest place to store water is in the ground. The ground acts as a sponge, soaking up water and releasing it in dry times. Up to 60 percent of the water in our rivers, traditionally comes from ground water, not from surface run-off.

Secondly, our water engineering practices – lining irrigation channels, creating impervious dams, straightening out rivers, etc – all speed up the rate at which water runs off the landscape, reducing the opportunity for that water to soak into the ground, thereby robbing the river basin of its natural water storage system to protect from drought.

The Murray Darling Basin Management scheme was predicated on the modernisation of water management which supposedly “created” additional water by these very mechanisms that reduce ground water.

As a water engineer, Steve is shocked that the profession which he proudly joined last century has actively reduced ground water in the name of increasing water storages to enable irrigation.

“These delusional water management practices have contributed directly to the creation of drought and thus the Menindee fish kill,” Posselt said in May 2019.

His book, Cry Me A River, is available through his website, Kayak4Earth.

Mayor of Lismore sends Kayak to Paris

At 10.30am on Monday the 12th of January, Steve will be farewelled from Lismore, NSW, by Mayor, Jenny Dowell at the Council Offices, 43 Oliver Ave, Goonellabah.

Steve travels to Canberra where his mammoth kayak journey begins. He will depart Engineering House at 11.00am on Thursday 15th of January. From there he drags his kayak to Port Kembla on foot and then paddles up the coast via Wollongong to Sydney, arriving at the Opera House at mid-day on 31st January. He will be greeted by Bob Brown and a numerous other well-wishers.

From Sydney, Steve will board a plane to the Gulf of Mexico where he paddles north up the Mississippi (that’s upstream), up the Illinois, through the Great Lakes and all the way to the sea at the top of Canada.  He then flies to the UK where he will paddle across the UK including the Thames, across the English Channel and up the Seine to Paris for the UN Climate Summit in November, 2015.

“I hope to represent all Australians who feel angered and dissatisfied by our government’s inaction around climate change,” Steve explained.

“Like so many people, I want deep emission cuts and a commitment from Canberra to treat the warming of the earth as the gravely important issue that it is. We know we are the worst emitters of CO2 per capita, and we know that we are the largest coal exporter in the world. I want to  represent all Australians , who want to accept our responsibility to make change, and do whatever it takes to contribute positively to the fight against  global warming.”

— ENDS —

About Steve

Steve Posselt is an engineer, author, adventurer, ecowarrior and grandfather. On January 12th, he will embark on a trip of truly epic proportions. In his Kayak4earth, he will Connect Climate Chaos across the globe; from Canberra to Sydney, throughout the length of North America and into Europe. He will travel approximately 8000kms paddling and dragging his wheeled kayak to deliver a message on behalf of all Australians to the rest of the world – we want to fight global warming.

Connecting Climate Chaos is about linking extreme weather events outside previously known parameters; Canberra’s Fire Storm, Sydney’s unseasonably early bush fires, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the melting of the Arctic, the UK’s floods and French drought.

Enquiries contact Connor Benfield from Men at Work Communications on 0401 756 643 or connor@menatworkcomms.com.au

Kayak4Earth video released

A quick video compilation of Kayak4Earth’s previous trips set to Dennis Nattrass’ Down By The Water has been released on You Tube.

Steve Posselt on the Murray River (Australia’s Mississippi) and its major tributaries, talking to politicians, the media and scientists about the impact of Climate Chaos and Global Warming on our river systems and the communities who depend on them.