‘Kayaktivism’ in the Alps

Austrian creekboaters protest power stations in whitewater's renowned Tirol region

The powerful, glacially fed rivers of the Austrian Alps have long been in the crosshairs of energy production development. TIWAG, Tiroler Wasserkraft AG, already operates nine major power stations and an additional 40 smaller facilities throughout Tirol, a region renowned for its wild whitewater. TIWAG has a handful of projects in mind that would increase their generation capabilities. One of these, an additional reservoir for the Sellrain-Silz storage plant series, has brought paddlers, and others who hold the streams of Tirol dear, together in opposition of the new construction. The project includes an increased catchment area for the reservoir, stretching across segments of the Oetztal and Stubaital valleys, draining water from rivers such as the Sill and Ruetz. Activists are concerned that pumping water out of these rivers will cause not only recreational impact, but environmental issues as well.
Local kayaker Bernhard Steidl has been a driving force behind the activism defending the Stubaital Valley. Earlier this summer he organized the Kayakfestival Tirol. An event used as a protest to TIWAG’s proposed activities.

In this video, Steidl uses his kayak to illustrate the effects TIWAG’s weirs have on the alpine streams, and goes on to state: "The living environment down there is the living environment for all of us and that will be closed, that will be locked."

Learn more about the current situation in Tirol by visiting stubaiwasser.at. And check out footage from Steidl’s Kayakfestival Tirol below:

Day 2 – Kajakfestival Tyrol 2015 (english subtitles) from Source to Sea on Vimeo.

— Read about this summer’s kayak protest in Portland, Ore., that turned back a Shell icebreaking ship en route to the Arctic, as well as the on-water protest that had more than 500 paddlers block a massive drilling platform in Seattle's Elliott Bay.