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Water-Related News

Tampa’s latest solution to its litter problem? A trash-collecting boat

The city of Tampa unveiled the $565,000 vessel In July, after two years of searching for the most efficient way to clean up local waterways.

To combat pollution in the waters of Tampa Bay, the city of Tampa has launched what's called the Litter Skimmer.

Like a street cleaner for local waterways, the boat collects trash by skimming the surface and up to 3 feet underwater.

The nautical garbage truck gets its name from the flipper-like arms that scoop up debris of varying shapes and sizes. The trash it collects moves along a conveyor belt and is deposited into the boat's garbage bin.

So far, it has picked up half a ton of trash in its first two weeks.

Boat operator Walt Townsend spends eight hours a day navigating around downtown Tampa's waterways. He finds everything from plastic cups to 4-feet long pieces of driftwood.

"A lot of people may not realize, you know, they see the trash in the water. But when they see a piece of wood, 'oh it's organic it's no harm,' ” Townsend said. “But those could easily be a navigational hazard for the boaters and kayakers out there."