The Team

David | Connor | Steve | Geoff

Klaas Nierop

Klaas 2Klaas is the support crew. He will drive the vehicle in each country, set up camp each day and make sure Steve is fed and rested for the next day. At 82, he has had a pretty exciting life so far which he has chronicled in his book, Past My Use By Date

David Hood

David Hood photo

Professor David Hood AM is a civil and environmental engineer with vast experience across major civil and military projects, professional development in emerging economies, senior management in both the public and private sectors and in education.  David is deeply concerned that human activities and our current business paradigms, and personal lifestyles are seriously damaging our global home – the planet.  However, it need not lead to a Great Disruption – there is hope, but only if we realise what we are doing, and take immediate restorative action.David was the 2012 National President of Engineers Australia (EA).  In 2012, David was included in the Engineers Media list of Australia’s top 100 professional engineers.  In 2013 David was made an Honorary Fellow of EA.
Following a successful career in project management David took over and commissioned Australia’s then New Parliament House in the mid 1980s – a life changing career episode. Since that project, David has become increasingly involved in fostering a culture of sustainability across all engineering disciplines, and the built environment.
David is an Adjunct Professor in the Science and Engineering Faculty at QUT where he inculcates sustainability across education and research. He led the Sustainability Program of the CRC for Infrastructure and Engineering Asset Management (CIEAM) until 2013. In 2006, he initiated, and was Founding Chairman until 2011 of the Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC now ISCA), an industry association which developed the world’s first full sustainability rating scheme for infrastructure.
David is an accredited Presenter with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and in August 2011, David was included in the ABC Carbon list of the top 100 Sustainability leaders in the world (and again in 2012, and 2013).

On Australia Day 2013, David was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his enormous contribution to engineering through industry associations, and for lifting public awareness of sustainability.

In December 2013, David was appointed Australasian Leader of Blue Australasia, a collaborative venture to drive a transformative business model that restores natural and social capital as well as business wellness.  In 2014 David founded the Long Future Foundation as a means of securing support for regenerative business change, climate action, and the development of a “Blue Paper” for Australia – how we can transition to blue economy principles as a nation.

Connor Benfield

con vietnam

Connor is the team’s publicist and an account manager at Men at Work Communications. Con will accompany Steve and Klaas to the USA where he’ll help launch the Northern Hemisphere leg of the trip.  He is your contact for all media enquiries and partnership opportunities, both in Australia and abroad.

Steve’s cv

Steve cv image

Chartered Civil Engineer  – Specialising in Mechanical Equipment –  Water Industry Specialist

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons II), NSW Institute of Technology, 1971-76

Local Government Engineering Post Graduate Subjects Queensland Institute of Technology 1983

Business Administration Graduate Diploma  Queensland Institute of Technology 1984-86


  • Fellow Institution of Engineers – FIE Aust, CPEng
  • Registered Professional Engineer Qld – RPEQ 1864
  • Member Australian Water Association
  • Member Water Industry Operators Assoc.

Professional History (details below)

  • 2010 – Nov 2013 Australian Water Engineers Part Owner, Founder
  • 2007 – 2010 Kayak4Earth – Own business, Founder
  • 1999 – 2007 Watergates SP – Own Business, Founder
  • 1994 – 1999 Valveflo Engineering – Part Owner
  • 1985 – 1994 Aquatec Maxcon – Director
  • 1981 – 1985 Reinholds – Queensland Consulting Engineer
  • 1979-1981 Envirotec Australia – Site Engineer
  • 1977-1979 Howard Humphries – Engineer
  • 1976-1977 Sydney Water – Engineer
  • 1971-1976 Sydney Water – Engineering Trainee

Overall Capabilities

With over 40 years’ experience in the water industry, specializing in mechanical equipment but with general civil and process experience encompassing asset owner, owner’s engineer, consultant, contractor, supplier and manufacturer the following apply:

  • An ideal mentor and checker with ability to analyze components applying valid engineering assumptions and performing engineering calculations
  • An ideal technical specification proof reader and mentor with ability to read and interpret technical specifications, identify the weak points and ask suitable questions to clarify deficiencies
  • An ideal design challenger and mentor with ability to reflect on and critique specified material choices and their applications plus fitness for purpose of fabrication techniques;
  • An experienced trouble shooter able to quickly identify issues and solve the problems
  • An ideal partner in any venture or conflict with decades of experience in business and engineering operating at all levels.

Specific Technical Expertise

  • Checking equipment drawings and pump station designs for hundreds of sites
  • Managing contracts – especially mechanical equipment
  • Supervision of construction of sewage treatment plants including mechanical equipment: Benghazi Libya, Raymond Terrace Stage 2, Coombabah Stage 1 and Loganholme Stages 1 & 2
  • Excellent people management skills
  • Trouble shooting skills
  • Experience in working with tradesman, drafters, engineers, CEO’s and government ministers
  • Knowledge of contract law, workplace health and safety, quality assurance, purchasing, industrial relations and client management
  • Very strong leadership and motivational skills proven by success
  • Significant experience in materials selection, appropriate to the location in the process, due to knowledge of properties and follow up visits over decades
  • Significant experience in manufacturing: techniques, issues, and especially avoidance of problems – often by very simple modifications
  • Project expertise ranges from detailed observations, checking drawings, to client/contractor relationships and conflict avoidance or resolution where necessary
  • Overwhelmingly experienced in the field of mechanical equipment
  • Supply of mechanical equipment to sewage treatment plants from Tasmania to Cooktown including all types of screens, grit removal, aeration and extended aeration systems, digesters, clarifies, chlorine equipment, ancillaries such as lime silos, sludge treatment such as belt presses, shaftless screws, sludge silos, sludge heating and digestion, gas burners, trickling filters and dosing siphons
  • Implementation, accreditation and on-going maintenance of Quality Assurance for four companies

Specific Experience in Organisations

2010 – 2013         Australian Water Engineers        Co-founder and managing director of the company which supplies water control equipment. The company is similar to Watergates SP but with new technology and a 50% partner that has been in the control gates business for more than 120 years.

Established joint venture operations in NZ. Set up the following for both countries:

  • Quality assurance which involves all aspects of AS/NZ ISO 9001: 2010
  • Design standards using all relevant Australian Standards
  • Manufacturing standards – critical to quality and longevity of product
  • Computer systems
  • Accounting systems

Setting up businesses from scratch is very difficult. Everything that a business needs must be created and relationships formed. Left the company in November 2013 which was the time agreed with other shareholders when the company was started, and when the company was making a reasonable profit.

2007 – 2010         Kayak4Earth –      Formed Kayak4earth Pty Ltd, established a web site, organised sponsors and completed a journey by wheeled kayak from Brisbane to Adelaide May-Sept 2007. The total journey was 3250km including 1080km dragging the kayak where there was no water. All efforts focused on sustainability with further adventures, writing and speaking.

Short term contract with Simmonds and Bristow Sept 2009 to Jan 2010 setting up business development department and then water supply options report for Morobe Gold Mining JV at Wau, PNG

Published a book in 2009 called Cry Me a River, currently on second printing

Engineers Aust 2009 Eric Brier Memorial Award for “the significant contribution to advancing the public status of the profession of engineering, particularly in the field of sustainable development”

 1999 – 2007         Watergates SP – Founded Watergates SP and developed a niche market for specific water control products in non-ferrous metals. Introduced engineering to fabricated gate design in Australia. Watergates SP had for some time the only qualified engineers in Australia in the gate business.

Supplied penstocks and other water gates to hundreds of sewage treatment plants, waterways, dams, water treatment plants all over Australia, NZ and twelve other countries, all to my designs. Commanded 80% market share in two local states and Abu Dhabi. Significant shares in other states and NZ plus intermittent sales elsewhere.

Sold to Ludowici Ltd in 2005 to go adventuring after building the company from nothing to $350k pa net profit and employing 34 people.

1994 – 1999         Valveflo Engineering – Part owner valve and penstock sales company. Developed engineering training to the valve market after learning much about valve engineering that is specific to the industry such as the importance of Cv, minimum non return velocities, water hammer avoidance etc  Sold to Tyco after they recognised the marketing position and wanted a part of it.


1985 – 1994         Aquatec Maxcon – Part of a team that purchased Aquatec Maxcon and grew the company in the water equipment supply market to be the largest equipment manufacturer in Australia.

Design and supervision of manufacture and installation of the following equipment on plants from Tasmania to Cooktown:

  • Screens – all types
  • Grit removal – all types
  • Aeration – surface aerators and diffuser systems
  • Digesters – floating roofs, gas burners, heaters, heat echangers, mixing systems
  • Clarifiers – all types
  • Sludge treatment – transport systems, belt presses, storage systems
  • Trickling filters including dosing siphons

Tendering and managing contracts for supply of the above and also including other systems by suppliers such as chlorination, UV, electrical subcontractor.

Sold equity at substantial return after five years as director to try small business and learn about valves.

1981 – 1985             Reinholds

Employed for supervision of stages 1 & 2 of Loganholme WWTP plus some other trunk sewers

1979-1981                Envirotec Australia

Employed to finish supervision of Raymond Terrace WWTP stage 2 then Coombabah Stage 1 where Envirotech were the principal contractors for the design and construct contracts.

1977-1979                Howard Humphries

Assistant resident engineer for Guachia WWTP, the main plant for Benghazi, Libya

1971 – 1977              Sydney Water

Two years investigations, two years construction and two years design branch at a time when Sydney Water was in a major construction phase

Geoff Ebbs

Geoff is a communications and web guru who supports us by getting the site up and running . General manager of a water engineering firm, he has previously published The Westender, edited Steve’s book Cry Me a River, produced and presented radio and television shows.

He is a dedicated activist for climate change, has represented the Greens four times in federal elections and is the state convenor of the Qld Greens campaign committee for the 2015 State Election.

His company Ebono Institute supports non-profit organisations and companies who make profit for a purpose.

Lynne Phillips

2015-05-04 01.18.09

From Fan 1: Lynette – the tenacious peace-maker, publicist and navigator extraordinaire! Able to leap tall trailers at a single bound, faster than a speeding bicycle and able to withstand a  hail of expletives from disgruntled men-folk.

From Fan 2: Young Lynette, at 72, is caretaker of the camp, keeping the home fires burning during the absences of Steve & Klaas while they undertake reconnaissance and forge ahead. Her greatest ability, and no mean feat, is to withstand the hail of expletives from, at times, the disappointed, despondent and disgruntled men-folk.