Skimmer Boat Program / Clean & Green

The Houston area storm water drainage system directs street water and debris into curb catch basins that route the runoff through an underground system that empties into the city’s bayous. Discarded soda cans, plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and other pieces of floating litter from the streets enter into the drainage system. After a rainstorm, a tidal wave of trash flows into the Turning Basin on its way to Galveston Bay, the largest estuary on the Texas coast and part of the National Estuary Program. As the water level recedes to normal in the bayou, trash is left in the water and along the bayou’s banks, trapped in trees and other vegetation. This recurring presence of trash, debris and pollutants degrades water quality and negatively impacts the ecosystem. In addition, the appearance of litter results in a less appealing recreational amenity for residents and visitors to enjoy and affects Houston’s overall image.

Skimmer Boat Program

Integral to Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s clean-up operations is the Skimmer Boat Program sponsored by the Harris County Flood Control District annually since 2003. BBP has designed a custom-built Bio-Vac—an industrial strength vessel that sucks floatable trash from Buffalo Bayou.

Clean & Green

Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Clean & Green Program is a bayou clean-up initiative that utilizes community service workers to remove trash and debris from Buffalo Bayou, its tributaries and the Port of Houston. This important program was established with Shell Oil Company and the Port of Houston as founding partners. Five days a week, BBP’s staff directs and works alongside land-based crews of community service workers that collect litter and debris from the banks of the waterway. Water-borne crews work from boats to clean storm drains, banks and other natural collection areas. Key program collaborators that provide the community service workers to assist BBP’s field crew include Harris County’s Community Service Restitution Program (CSRP), Harris County Sherriff’s CARES Program and several court programs.

Expansion Continues

In 2015, over 2,000 cubic yards of trash and debris were removed from Buffalo Bayou, its tributaries and the Port of Houston. Because of BBP’s expertise and efficiency, the Skimmer Boat operation and Clean & Green program continue to expand. Litter booms are now placed not only on Buffalo Bayou, but along neighboring bayous with BBP removing trash and debris along Brays Bayou up to the Gus Wortham Park Golf Course. BBP has also assumed clean-up of Arthur Storey Park retention pond as part of a pilot program with the Harris County Flood Control District. All of these initiatives allow BBP to provide a more beautiful cultural, recreational and environmental amenity that improves the quality of life in Houston.

Galveston Bay is Texas’ largest estuary—a coastal body of water with a free connection with the open sea—and it starts in your backyard.

Check out the 2016 Galveston Bay Report Card and learn more about what you can do for a straight “A” Bay!

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