Green

Solution for Pasadena trash problem?

Monday, October 19, 2009

There is a huge problem in Pasadena with piles and piles of trash polluting the bayous. Most of the garbage is floating in from the Houston Ship Channel, but one local man may have found a way to ease the problem.

There's a lot of trash that's washed up in just one Pasadena bayou. It's a disgusting pile of trash that Perry Panousis with Waterway Cleanup Services knows all too well.

"Here we have a plastic bag, which could have easily been put in a garbage can," he said. "Somewhere we have grass clippings here."

Panousis first became familiar with the stuff people toss into the water while repairing ships in the Houston Ship Channel. After years of watching the junk float by, he finally had enough.

"I just got fed up with it and decided to do something about it," he said.

"What he did was design a trash trapper.

"Trash does get caught here," he showed us. "I filter out all the water, even the grass clippings get caught up on the filter system here."

It's half trash filter and half oil remediation.

"The booms here do collect all the oil, which you see sitting up on the water here," he said.

But unlike other filter systems, Panousis says his actually prevents clogging.

"When the water level gets too high to prevent a damming effect, what it does, these buoys right here will rise with the water level and move over," he said.

The city of Pasadena has been testing the prototype for eight months and so far, officials say the results are stunning.

One device, they say, has collected more than 50 cubic yards of trash, enough to fill the beds of 25 standard pickup trucks.

"I love it that it captures every single thing," said Sarah Metzger, manager with Pasadena Environmental Services. "There's nothing that goes by."

But not everyone is sold on the idea. The Harris County Flood Control District has so far refused to test the product. There's also the question of price. It's $30,000 per device. Still, for the city of Pasadena, there's already talk of buying more; anything to help keep the city's waterways from looking trashy.

"When we do get that light rain storm and you have that trash flowing in the bayous, this is exactly what it's intended to do is capture that first flush floatables traveling down the bayous in one spot and one spot only," said Panousis.

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