The Port of Corpus Christi Authority has tentatively been awarded a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to procure and deploy trash-skimming technology for collecting fugitive refuse in the Salt Flats Ditch near Nueces Bay.
Providing drainage for an urbanized watershed in the City of Corpus Christi, the Salt Flats Ditch regularly becomes littered with trash after rain events. The Port of Corpus Christi Authority sought grant funds to protect the region’s water quality and habitat because the ditch empties into the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
The EPA’s Trash-Free Waters grant program is issuing $471,324 for the trash-skimming equipment and annual maintenance costs. The Salt Flats Ditch cleanup will help to protect nearly eight miles (12.8 kilometres) of shoreline from contamination. The funds will also be used to raise community awareness about how trash makes it into U.S. waterways and pollutes bays and estuaries.
The port intends to purchase an autonomous, solar-powered marine debris collector capable of collecting up to 1,000 pounds (453.5 kilograms) of refuse in a single gathering. The volume and type of trash will be analyzed to determine the types of materials that end up in the waterway and how they likely arrived there. The resulting research will be shared with academia and coastal conservation groups to raise awareness as they continue to build a healthy ecosystem.