‘Kayaking the Sickest Urban River in Australia’ is the latest video by Australian adventurer and environmental advocate Beau Miles. Highlighting the urban pollutants entering the Cooks River in Sydney, the production is an inspiring but heart-breaking exposé that links the modern health of the river to its treatment since early settlement.
Accordingly, the current condition of the Cooks River acts as an uncomfortable symbol of how our society has viewed Australia’s natural assets, and the consequences this has wrought.
Navigating the treacherous urban environment, and its corridors of wastewater, sewerage and rubbish, Miles looks at the ways the river system has been changed throughout the city’s lifetime. With his trusty red kayak in tow and shopping bags full of recyclables gathered along the way, he carves a twenty-three kilometre journey – ending in Botany Bay.
Throughout, he finds nooks and crannies full of refuse and rubbish. The journey is perilous and Beau is surrounded by the things that society throws out – from plastic bottles, to soccer balls and pens. The ill health of the river system is contrasted by the ways that nature bounces back and in Miles’ own words ‘finds a way’.
The result is exceptional. A worthwhile watch for all champions of stormwater, and those looking to understand the impacts of urban development on our waterways.
Without correct treatment, stormwater from urban development runs directly into our waterways. The development of stormwater systems is of paramount importance to the health of these environments.
Stormwater systems are vital frontline defenders that help us remove pollutants before they reach our precious aquatic habitats. We support the endeavours of community organisations that look to save these environments – with Beau Miles touching on the work of Cooks River Alliance.
Andrew Thomas, Vice President, Stormwater NSW, says,
“Beau’s video highlights the hidden problem of urban stormwater and its disastrous impacts on our rivers, estuaries, and oceans. As a vector for a wide range of pollutants, from rubbish to sewage and everything in between, urban stormwater represents the number one challenge facing waterway health and, therefore, our health.”
“Accordingly, we must do whatever we can to treat our stormwater before it gets to our waterways, and work hard to raise awareness and educate the public about this issue.”