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Port Corpus Christi receives trash skimmer grant

The solar panels on the trash skimmer to be purchased by the Port of Corpus Christi will allow the device to remove trash 24 hours, seven days a week in the Salt Flats Ditch. Courtesy photo

A solar-powered trash skimmer project by the Port of Corpus Christi won recognition and money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Three grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to the port, the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and the American Bird Conservancy during a virtual news conference Sept. 16.

The EPA Trash-Free Waters program has issued 17 grants for a total of $7.8 million to organizations in Gulf of Mexico states.

“One of the major water issues is marine litter,” said EPA regional administrator Ken McQueen. “The groups we honor today are raising public awareness of the challenge of marine litter, and they are involving their communities in solving it.”

The Trash Free Water grants are divided among the three groups:

• Port Corpus Christi, $471,324

• Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, $422,857

• American Bird Conservancy, $499,733

The port’s grant money will pay for a mobile trash skimming device for the Salt Flats Ditch, a natural discharge accumulation point for removing municipal trash. The trash that runs off into the ditch enters the Corpus Christi Ship Channel and then the Gulf of Mexico.

Using solar panels to power it, the trash skimmer runs 24/7 collecting trash before it can continue downstream.

Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries will expand its Up2U litter prevention program from the headwaters of the Nueces basin to six counties and 10 watersheds in the Coastal Bend. The program distributed yellow mesh bags for picking up and disposing of marine litter at collection points and cleanup events.

The American Bird Conservancy is launching an educational outreach campaign along with a website to collect data and engage the public.

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