GOING WITH THE FLOW: Inventor Damian Koch sporting an old wet suit he covered with rubbish collected by his Stormwater Filter in one day. Below (right) is Mr Koch with a section of his filter and its world-wide patent.
GOING WITH THE FLOW: Inventor Damian Koch sporting an old wet suit he covered with rubbish collected by his Stormwater Filter in one day. Below (right) is Mr Koch with a section of his filter and its world-wide patent. Ross Kendall

Byron man invents answer to cleaner waterways

IT COULD be the answer to cleaner waterways and it was invented by a Byron Bay man.

The Stormwater Filter collects rubbish from streets before it can make its way into waterways and oceans, according to inventor Damian Koch.

In just two months, the specially designed metal-grill filter has been shown to stop up to 23 kilograms of street trash, such as cigarette butts and food wrappers, from entering a drain.

If installed Australia-wide, thousands of tonnes of rubbish could be diverted from the country's oceans and river systems each year, Mr Koch said.

The Stormwater Filter acts like a sieve allowing water flow but trapping trash.

It has a 6cm lip that helps trap bigger pieces of rubbish but doesn't interfere with the water flow, so there isn't any flood risk, he said.

It can be produced to snugly fit into a range of different gutter and drain combinations and would stop councils having to clean out their drain pits.

The units cost roughly $300 each and last for at least 30 years. They've also been designed so they can be cleaned out by street sweeping machines that are often used by councils.

"It is a really simple design," Mr Koch said.

The device has the added advantage in coastal municipalities of potentially reducing shark risk as it lowers the amount of stormwater debris that acts as bait.

The design and patent process has been unfolding for close to 12 years, and has not been easy or cheap. More than $150,000 has already been spent, he said.

The Stormwater Filter has been trialled at Byron Bay, Grafton, Brisbane and by Kogarah Council in Sydney.

"I have had great recommendations," he said.

But Mr Koch has stopped trying to sell his idea and now wants the Federal Government to buy the patent, and distribute where it is needed.

"I'm an inventor not a salesman," he said.

The idea for the filter first came to Mr Koch when he had a job cleaning the street area in front of a Byron Bay cafe. Each day he would hose rubbish down the drain, painfully aware it went straight to the beach.

It didn't take him long to figure out stopping the rubbish before it entered the system was an easy way to control the situation.