Skimmer Boat Helps Clean Up Buffalo Bayou and Starts Recycling Plan

By: Tad Hathaway

In just over three months at the helm of this boat, Darrell Norman has used the skimming device to scoop up everything from seat cushions to beer cans.
“It’s just about anything, anything you throw in your yard ends up here in the bayou,” said Norman.

The bayou’s collect of debris is the chief reason why the county bought a skimmer-boat around four months ago. Run by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Harris County Flood Control, they say it represents a major step in helping to clean up the bayou.

“It helps that when people see the bayou, they don’t think of it as a draining ditch but more as an ecological system that’s important to a lot of different habitats,” said Buffalo Bayou Partnership Scott Barnes.

Despite the natural place of the bayou in our habitat, it’s the un-natural objects and how they wind up there that continues to baffle the folks who run the boat.

“Headless animals, soccer balls, tennis balls, little McDonald’s balls, plastic bottles, basket balls, football balls, a lot of tennis balls, all types of balls from all types of sports,” said the boat drivers.

There are so many balls that they’re developing a program to re-cycle them and give them back to community centers in under-privileged areas.

“For the most part, all you have to do is pump them full of air and they’re ready to go,” said Norman.

Just when the bayou will be ready to go for further development hinges partly on how well they can clean it up. But after less than a half-year in operation, the skimmers say they’re already off to a good start.

In addition to recycling balls, operators of the boat are also developing plans to recycle plastics, paper and organic matter they collect from the bayou, rather than sending it to a land-fill.

Source: News 24 Houston 2003