Trash-skimming boat makes quick work of removing debris from lake

It looks like a cross between a bulldozer and boat, and that pretty much describes its function, too.

It’s called a trash skimmer, and it can scoop up more floating debris in 10 minutes than a person can pick up by hand in an hour.

There’s one patrolling Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the Tennessee Izaak Walton League thinks Knoxville’s downtown waterfront needs one, too.

On Wednesday the Tennessee Valley Authority’s only trash skimmer — normally based at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant — made a temporary visit to the upper end of Fort Loudoun Lake for demonstration purposes.

Nelson Ross, executive director of the Izaak Walton League’s Clean Water Center, said such a machine would benefit the waterfront economically as well as aesthetically.

“The ugliness of trash in the lake is bad enough, but we feel there is also a serious dis-economy to the damage floating debris does to boats,” Ross said.

Ross said the Izaak Walton League, which recently initiated a clean-water campaign involving area civic, business and environmental leaders, will do an economic study to determine the cost benefits of removing trash from the upper end of Fort Loudoun Lake.

Gary Williams, watershed specialist for TVA, said the agency possibly would help the Izaak Walton League obtain trash skimmers and then contract them to operate and maintain them.

“This piece of equipment (a TrashCat™ made by United Marine International) is great for dealing with the problem on a localized front, but the key responsibility is proper trash disposal,” Williams said.

Morgan Simmons may be reached at
865-342-6321 or
Morgan Simmons, News-Sentinel staff writer

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