Houston, TX – Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP), the non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing and transforming Houston’s most significant natural waterway, will unveil its new Bayou-Vac on August 3. Years in the making, the custom-designed and fabricated boat provides a substantial boost to BBP’s bayou cleanup operation, known as the Clean & Green Program.
For more than 20 years, BBP has employed full-time staff to travel daily up and down 14 miles of the bayou cleaning up trash. The work is endless, and a rain event only exacerbates the relentless flow of trash from Houston’s roads and freeways into its storm drains, and then on to the bayou, Galveston Bay, and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. To date, BBP’s team has used a custom boat designed and constructed by engineer and longtime BBP Board Member, Mike Garver, to vacuum trash from the bayou and haul it off to a dumpster. Using the boat’s innovative technology, the Clean & Green team has been able to remove approximately 2,000 cubic yards of trash annually, the equivalent of about 167 commercial dump trucks.
The new Bayou-Vac is BBP’s second vacuum vessel. Also created by Garver, the Bayou-Vac
incorporates significant improvements which will make the Clean & Green operation far more
“The Bayou-Vac is a game changer for our program,” said BBP Field Operations Manager, Robby
Robinson. “Once up and running, we foresee being able to gain an entire workday worth of
time for every offload, making us twice as efficient at clearing trash from the bayou.”
Several improvements have been made to the second-generation Bayou-Vac. Its removable
dumpsters can be swapped out, so workers no longer need to double handle trash and debris.
With the old boat, floating booms were used to collect trash that would be vacuumed into a
built-in, permanent container. When the boat’s container was full, workers used a land-based
vacuum unit to blow material into a dumpster on shore. The new boat’s removable containers
slide off and attach to a dump truck, while an additional container is loaded onto the Bayou-Vac
to continue the day’s collection.
Another significant new feature of the Bayou-Vac is a moveable, hydraulic arm attached to the
bow of the vessel. This arm supports the considerable weight of the 16-foot vacuum hose. In
the prior Bio-Vac, the hose was supported and operated manually, requiring a high level of
exertion from workers. The hydraulic arm also allows access a few feet up the banks along the
bayou shoreline where trash and debris frequently collect during rain events when the water
rises. This was not possible with the former boat.
“BBP deeply appreciates the ingenuity of our board member Mike Garver and the generosity of
Sis and Hasty Johnson and the Kinder Foundation, the funders of the new Bayou-Vac,” said BBP
President, Anne Olson. “We also thank the Harris County Flood Control District and Port
Houston for their longtime support of BBP’s Clean & Green Program.”
The Bayou-Vac will be in full operation in early August 2022, enabling Houstonians to enjoy a
cleaner Buffalo Bayou for years to come.