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Buffalo Bayou cleanup high priority for Port of Houston and partners

Last week the Port of Houston Authority, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and corporate partner Shell Oil Company launched the Clean & Green Port of Houston program to restore Buffalo Bayou to a cleaner and more beautiful waterway.
The year-round program is an environmental initiative that will use community service workers through the Harris County Supervision & Corrections Department to clean up litter and debris.
Five days a week, a land-based crew will collect litter and debris from the banks of the waterway, while a water-based crew will work from a skimmer boat to clean storm drains, banks and other natural collection areas. The program aims to collect more than 10 cubic yards of debris a day over the next year — enough to fill 83 garbage trucks. The result: a clean and pristine waterway for the community to enjoy.
“As the leading environmental steward of Galveston Bay, the port authority has supported efforts, including the use of the Mighty Tidy boat skimmer, to clean this tide of litter in our bayou system. But it just isn’t enough,” said James T. Edmonds, Chairman, Port of Houston Authority. “Through the initiative of our newest port commissioner, Elyse Lanier, and several partners, including Shell Oil Company as the corporate sponsor, the new Clean & Green Program will tackle this problem head on.”
Sylvia Garcia, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner, said “The preservation and improvement of the environment of Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel is a welcome gift for my district. I look forward to working with the port authority to help make the Clean & Green Port of Houston Green Program a success for all of us.”

“When I saw the trash littering our bayou, I knew that something had to be done. Lady Bird Johnson taught me that beautification is about more than making things pretty — it’s about taking pride in a place and making it special for everyone,” said Lanier, Commissioner, Port of Houston Authority. “Cleaning up the bayou and the ship channel tells people we care about our city. It says that every part of our county matters. I’m so proud of everyone who came together to make this happen, and I believe it will be the beginning of even bigger and better efforts to clean this region.”
The Houston area storm water drainage system carries street water and debris to curb catch basins that route the runoff through an underground system, which directly empties into the city’s bayous. All discarded soda cans, plastic bags, Styrofoam cups and other litter from the streets enter into this drainage system. After a downpour, a tidal wave of trash flows towards the Port of Houston, and ultimately Galveston Bay, causing severe environmental problems. As the water level recedes to normal in the bayou, trash is left in the water, along the bayou’s banks, and hanging from trees and other vegetation. This recurring litter negatively impacts the environment, neighboring communities and the city’s overall image.
Phase one of the Clean & Green program will focus on restoring a seven-mile area along Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Turning Basin, and the Turning Basin through the Houston Ship Channel to the Highway 610 bridge.
“Shell and its employees have a longstanding commitment to the communities where we live and work,” said John Hofmeister, President, Shell Oil Company. “We are pleased to be able to provide the tools necessary to make the Port of Houston Clean & Green program possible, and we look forward to playing an important role in restoring and beautifying the East End district.”
Kim Ogg, partner McFall, Breitbeil & Shults, PC, said, “Public-private partnerships like the Clean & Green Program are a key to improving our city. A critical first step was enlisting the aid of our criminal judges and the Harris County Community Supervision & Corrections Department. They now assign individuals working off their court sentences through community service to serve as the labor force of the program.”
Belinda Hill, Judge, Harris County 230th District Criminal Court, said, “Community service is one of a variety of alternative sentencing techniques that help probationers give back to the community. Providing services that benefit society is a win-win proposition. It’s good for the offenders, the victims and the community.”
Mike Garver, Board Chair, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, said, “The Buffalo Bayou Partnership has been keenly aware that the Mighty Tidy skimmer boat has challenges with keeping up with all the floating trash that flows through the bayous and the port on its way to Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Through the years, we have made great progress in making Buffalo Bayou a cleaner, healthier, more natural corridor. The new Clean and Green program brings us that much closer to achieving this goal.”
Sonny Flores, Board Chair, Greater East End Management District, said, “We have worked with Harris County Precinct 6 for a number of years on security issues. By maintaining the contract for the deputy constable from Precinct 6 and overseeing that relationship, we can best assist the effort in a productive way. The East End is the historic home of the Port of Houston. Together, we can make the future cleaner and greener.”