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KTB has had the honor of managing an EPA Grant through their Trash Free Waters program since 2020, extending project funds throughout the state to different organizations working to prevent the flow of litter into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Removing Floatable Trash from the Buffalo Bayou

On October 26th, Kirsten Sorensen had her second EPA site visit in Houston with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP), the group responsible for the cleanup, conservation, and ecosystem restoration of the bayou and the many green spaces and public parks throughout Houston that surround it. The accumulation of urban trash in Houston has to go somewhere. More often than not, that trash ultimately makes its way to the bayou, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Galveston Bay. 

The BBP implemented a floating boom system throughout the bayou for their project. The boom system creates a trap for trash as it moves through the bayou by factors like wind and rain. Strategically placed, each boom captures as much litter volume as possible. 

At the visit, Robby Robinson, Field Operations Manager at the BBP, gave Kirsten a tour of the bayou. The floating boom system extends from the oxbow at Turkey Bend, an area slated to become a recreational area open to the public through downtown Houston. 

Robby showed Kirsten where installed booms are currently located: from the oxbow of Turkey Bend to downtown Houston. Booms are installed in problem areas determined by wind, current, and wastewater outfalls and are monitored to determine the most effective placement. 

How Does it Work?

The BBP’s Clean & Green team operates the Bayou-Vac, an industrial-strength vacuum boat, on the bayou five days a week. The boat suctions up the trash captured in each of the installed booms. The team gathers the captured litter in a container that can be easily offloaded from the vessel for proper disposal.

In combination, the floating booms and the Bayou-Vac have allowed the BBP to remove 54 cubic yards of litter from Buffalo Bayou so far in 2023. 

KTB is grateful to have partnered on this incredible project with the EPA and the BBP. For more information about their work, visit the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Waterway Cleanup page and Trash Free Waters project page.

And stay tuned for highlights from Kirsten’s site visit in Galveston Bay.