As the weather warmed and spring came into full bloom, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC) began the fulltime operation of the 50-foot TrashCat™ skimmer boat, the SV Newark Bay. Five days a week the SV Newark Bay travels up and down the Passaic River picking up branches, logs, bottles, cans, and the occasional shopping cart from the river’s surface.
“We can already see a noticeable difference in the amount of debris in the river,” stated Tom Curry, member of the Nereid Boat Club, “There is definitely a reduction in the amount of vegetation and trash, and it is clearly linked to the effectiveness of the skimmer boat. The amount of trash and debris in the Passaic River can make rowing difficult and even dangerous, as the hull of the rowing shell is very delicate and easily damaged.”
The skimmer boat, designed and built by United Marine International, is operated by a three-man crew of PVSC employees. One crewman drives the boat while the other two look for floating trash on the river and keep the 26 cubic yard holding area and cargo doors free from collected debris. The boat has a single engine that provides power to two propellers, one located at the rear of each pontoon. This design allows the skimmer boat great flexibility of movement. Similar to a bulldozer, the boat can move forward and backwards and rotate in either direction 360 degrees. The cargo holding area and hydraulic cargo doors are designed with a conveyor that enables the skimmer boat to pull floatables in from the river. The maneuverability of the boat and cargo doors allow the crew to get into hard-to-reach spots, such as pulling right up alongside a bulkhead.
Depending on tides and recent rainfall, the amount of debris on the Passaic River can vary greatly. Some days there is a substantial amount of vegetation and floatables in the river that has been drawn together and is easily collected and removed. On other days the crew must aggressively search for debris that are strewn throughout the river as individual items to fill the holding area.
Currently, the boat is docked in Newark Bay at the PVSC plant where the collected debris are removed into a dumpster. To increase efficiency, PVSC has begun experimenting with the use of a mobile shoreline conveyor system to offload the skimmer boat at various locations along the river on days when the river is full of debris and the boat is quickly filled.
Source: Passaic River Restoration Report Fall 2000 Volume I, Issue 2
United Marine International is a subsidiary of Liquid Waste Technology, LLC®