News: Mighty Tidy Clears the Way

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Port of Houston Authority, along with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the Harris County Supplemental Environmental Program and the Harris County Flood Control District, has launched the trash skimmer Mighty Tidy, a vessel specially designed to skim litter and debris from Buffalo Bayou.

"The Port Authority is proud to deliver an innovative solution to the problem of visual pollution we have experienced along Buffalo Bayou," said Jim Edmonds, PHA chairman. "The skimmer boat is a part of our continuing commitment to good environmental stewardship."

Funded in part by a joint grant from the Harris County Supplemental Environmental Program and the Harris County Flood Control District, the skimmer will be in operation five days a week along the banks of the bayou from Shepherd Drive to the East Loop 610. In addition to capturing debris washed into the bayou from storm drains and street runoff, the boat is equipped with special attachments to remove trash from trees and along the bayou banks. Once the trash has been loaded via conveyers, it will be hauled onto dumpsters for off-site disposal. For 17 years, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership has served as an advisory resource and liaison among groups pursuing the development of bayou amenities and the many private and public sector entities with interests in the bayou. The partnership integrates major amenities into the bayou greenbelt and seeks ways to increase community involvement in Buffalo Bayou-related activities. "The skimmer boat project is a true public/private collaboration among Houston organizations," said Max Schuette, chairman of the partnership. "We sincerely thank the Port of Houston Authority and Harris County Supplemental Environmental Program for the boat's funding.

"The skimmer boat is part of phase one of our 20-year master plan called 'Buffalo Bayou and Beyond.' The bayou is a significant resource for our city but one seriously impacted by environmental problems. This skimmer boat is our first step in helping to restore the bayou to an ecologically functional system." Harris County Flood Control is an agency that has been with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership throughout the master planning process. The flood control district has provided strong support and funding for major Buffalo Bayou initiatives.

"By participating in this project, Harris County can further control litter along this important watershed and manage flooding," said Mike Talbott, director of the Harris County Flood Control District. The flood control district has a vested interest in reducing pollution and reducing the risk of flooding across the area. Anything that touches the ground in Harris County ends up in a stream, and most of the stream systems ultimately end up in Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel.

"Floatables" is the pollution term for the trash that floats off street systems and ends up in the waterways. Under a federal permit for water quality required under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, the flood control district is charged with dealing with the floating debris. Additionally, flood control engineers constantly operate reconnaissance missions along the bayou, looking for debris that could increase the risk of flooding, such as log jambs, snags on bridges and bank failures.

(Soure: The Port of Houston Authority)

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