Keeping Buffalo Bayou Clean & Green

Floating debris and litter that has made its way to the bayou.

From plastic water and soda bottles, to takeout containers and coffee cups, and even a rare basketball, the debris and litter which finds its way to Buffalo Bayou is an ongoing and nearly overwhelming problem.

Houston’s stormwater drainage system runs in such a way that following any rain event, litter from the streets is swept up in currents of water which travel into curb catch basins. From there, the debris journeys through an underground system, ultimately finding its way to the bayous, where it floats along as unsightly trash. If not managed properly, the rafts of litter, which can grow to be quite large, carry on to Galveston Bay and beyond.

Recognizing the negative environmental impact to water quality and wildlife habitats, as well as the detrimental affect visible trash has on the recreational appeal of Buffalo Bayou Park, Buffalo Bayou Partnership set into motion a series of initiatives to reclaim the bayou with the establishment of its Clean & Green Program.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Bio-Vac is part boat, part industrial strength vacuum.

Since 2002, dedicated crews have worked five days a week to capture floating debris from the water and sweep up trash which has found its way to the land. The Clean & Green Program utilizes several strategies to wrangle the litter – containment booms, nets, long-handled rakes, and lots of hard work.

One of Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s most interesting innovations to combat and collect floating debris on the water is it’s custom-built Bio-Vac. Part boat, part industrial strength vacuum, the Bio-Vac allows crews to navigate alongside areas of debris build-up and effectively suction trash out of the water and into a storage space on the boat for proper disposal.

Members of the Kinder Foundation family recently were given a first-hand look at Bio-Vac in action.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Clean & Green Team cleaning debris out of the bayou using the Bio-Vac.

“It is amazing to see the incredible effect the Bio-Vac has on the Houston Bayou System, due to its ability to remove such an immense amount of debris and trash from both the Buffalo Bayou and the White Oak Bayou. The progress being made within Houston regarding the removal of trash from our bayous, which are very central to the wellbeing of the Houston Community, is evident in the success shown by the Bio-vac,” said a member of the Kinder Foundation team.

It is a never-ending effort, but the results are astounding. In 2019 alone, 138 dump truck loads of trash were removed from the bayou and neighboring waterways. It is difficult to imagine what the bayou would look like without the Clean & Green program – and we are thankful that we don’t have to.

To learn more about Kinder Foundation’s support of Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s mission, please click here.