The S.C. Newark Bay – An Innovative Method of Removing Floating Debris

TrashCat™ clearing debris on the Passaic River

TrashCat™ clearing debris on the Passaic River

On July 14, 1999, Governor Christine Todd Whitman and Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC) christened the Skimmer Vessel “S.V. Newark Bay”, a boat specially designed to remove “floatables” (debris found on the water’s surface) from the Passaic River and Newark Bay. PVSC purchased the 50-foot pontoon-style trash skimmer (a United Marine International TRASHCAT™ model) through a grant from the State Office of Maritime Resources.

The vessel uses a system of hydraulically controlled conveyors to remove floatables that are mainly due to combined and storm sewer overflows that occur during rainstorms. The skimmer can retrieve items up to four and one-half feet in diameter, and has the capacity to contain up to six tons of trash. Currently in the works are Stormwater Management and Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement projects that will greatly reduce the river’s floatable burden. In the meantime, shoreline cleanups and the “S.V. Newark Bay” will go a long way toward achieving a trash-free river.

The skimmer completed several preliminary outings and cleanup missions last fall, and will soon come out of dry dock to begin its first full season of cleanups. The scheduling of TRASHCAT™ forays will be determined largely by conditions on the river. The higher lunar tides accompanying new and full moons typically bring more trash to the middle of the river. These will be prime opportunities for PVSC to make the best use of the skimmer boat. The vessel will also be used to supplement volunteer shoreline cleanup events.

SV Newark Bay's Three-Man Crew Skimming the Waters

SV Newark Bay’s Three-Man Crew
Skimming the Waters

Communities such as North Arlington and Lyndhurst, and volunteer groups such as New Jersey Community Water Watch, have been picking up trash along the Passaic River shorelines for many years. In 1998, a program was launched that helps these and other concerned and dedicated groups in their efforts to revive a river system that was once one of the most polluted systems in the United States.

Administered by Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC), with advocacy and coordination assistance from the Passaic River ition (PRC), this program is entitled thePassaic River/Newark Bay Restoration Program: Shoreline Cleanup Element. Through the Program, PVSC not only implements an independent cleanup effort utilizing PVSC employees and the skimmer boat “S.V. Newark Bay”, but also brings considerable organizational infrastructure and financial resources to its volunteer cleanup sponsorship role. PVSC supplies participating municipalities, service organizations, schools, businesses, and concerned citizens with resources for a successful cleanup event. These resources include gloves, trash bags, boots, waders, rakes and anything else the volunteers may need. PVSC also provides dumpsters and hauling free of charge, and pays the dump charges for the river trash.

The cleanups, which take place from March through December, have resulted in the removal of hundreds of tons of trash and debris from the river. This not only enhances the river’s overall health, but also improves its appearance and aesthetic appeal. In addition, the program is a great community-builder that fosters appreciation and respect for the Passaic River, an invaluable natural resource.

Source: Passaic River Restoration Reporter, Spring 2000 Vol 1