Hot Pink Trash Skimmer Wins Gulf Guardian Prize

HOUSTON, Texas  – A bright pink floating trash skimmer named the Mighty Tidy has won first prize in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2004 Gulf Guardian contest. The contest recognizes environmental achievement in the five state Gulf of Mexico region.

Launched in June 2003, the skimmer vessel, a TrashCat™ brand model from United Marine International, will clean a 16 mile stretch of this 65 mile historic waterway which connects downtown Houston with Galveston Bay and the Port of Houston.

The hot pink boat is a public art project, created by The Art Guys. It can be seen looking for trash with its cartoonish eyes five days a week from Shepherd Drive to the East Loop 610. In addition to capturing debris washed into the bayou from storm drains and street runoff, the boat is equipped with special attachments to remove trash located in trees and on the bayou banks.

TrashCat Mighty Tidy removes floating trash between seawall and a ship in Houston Ship Channel

The Buffalo Bayou Partnership along with Port of Houston Authority, Harris County Supplemental Environmental Program, Harris County Flood Control District and City of Houston Environmental Investigation Unit are partners in the program, the largest storm water pollution cleanup program in Harris County history.

The Mighty Tidy contributes to the health of watersheds over 400 square miles that empty into the Port of Houston and flow south to the significant national estuary of Galveston Bay and then into the Gulf, the EPA said.

The 21 foot garbage guzzler is part of phase one of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s 20 year Master Plan – Buffalo Bayou and Beyond.

The EPA credited the Mighty Tidy for “dramatic visual improvement,” “improving water quality,” saving aquatic life from ingesting trash, and generally helping to restore marine ecological function.

“Fish and other wildlife no longer suffer the effects from eating debris or getting caught up in and then dying in floating trash flushed from Houston area streets,” the EPA said in its award statement.

Beyond the dramatic visual improvement of three major bayous and the port, the water quality is improving without the toxicity created during the breakdown of floating debris. More than 1,000 cubic yards of floatable litter have been collected to date – nearly double the anticipated amount.

Harris County officials are delighted with the positive visibility achieved through a launch media event with more than 250 attendees, a Name The Skimmer contest at area schools that won fourth grader Haley Hendrix a $500 savings bond for the name Mighty Tidy, and the visually bold and unforgettable vessel that has attracted public attention to the issue of floatable pollution.

Source:  Courtesy of Environmental News Service