PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s a trip usually reserved for big steamboats like the Mississippi Queen, but a young man from Squirrel Hill is set to travel all the way from the Mon River to the Gulf of Mexico in a kayak.

He’s hoping to make a statement with his journey.

On Friday, Brett Ciccotelli will embark on the 1,981 mile kayak trip from Elizabeth, Pa., to New Orleans, La. It’s a taxing three-month trip in which he hopes to make a point about industrial pollution.

“My motivation actually came out of the oil spill in the Gulf last year,” said Ciccotelli.

Using some small grants and a camera, Ciccotelli will record sources of industrial pollution and post them nightly on his website, BanksoftheBasin.com, hoping to show the impact of every day discharges on the Monongahela, the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers.

“So this trip is my way of visu-documenting those smaller impacts that end up causing huge damages to this water shed that end up pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, just the way the BP oil spill did,” he said.

However, despite years of industrial discharges and acid mine drainage, Ciccotelli still believes in the recreational potential of the water basin – if pollution controls are put in place.

“This could be a place where people come down to have a picnic and go swimming at the end the day or pull out a fish, catch it and eat it,” Ciccotelli said.

He hopes to show others that that potential is still within reach.

“Not just showing the industry side of it; showing what this river is and what it could be,” he added.

Ciccotelli believes that in some small way this grueling trip will make that point; that the rivers can be clean again for the enjoyment and recreation of the people who live on them.

Monongahela River
More Local News

Watch & Listen LIVE