Buffalo is the latest waterfront city to benefit from Seabin™ technology. This past weekend, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and Congressman Brian Higgins introduced this new litter and debris cleaning system at the Buffalo Harbor State Park, in partnership with the bi-national Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) on behalf of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup and with NYS Parks.
The way that the Seabin™ trash skimmers work is that submerged barrels trap floating debris, day and night. The large bins suck in garbage as it passes by. The 24-7 process greatly helps other regional cleaning efforts that have been stepped-up in recent years. In 2022 alone, Waterkeeper cleanup efforts collected upwards of 20,000 pounds of trash in a single morning. The Niagara River Watershed cleanup event was heralded a great success, but demonstrates a greater need for additional cleaning mechanisms to join the effort. Ways of cleaning and monitoring the seemingly never-ending scourge of litter continue to be implemented, including community cleanups, the Solo Sweep program*, and the Seabins™.
The new Seabin™ trash trappers – installed at the water’s edge of Buffalo Harbor State Park – were funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program to Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) on behalf of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, a joint initiative of CGLR and Pollution Probe, Canada’s longest-standing environmental organization.
“Our sweeps and in-water cleanups have been very effective programs for us, inspiring volunteerism and removing large amounts of unhealthy and unsightly debris from our waterways,” explained Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka. “This project with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and New York State Parks will expand this water stewardship model and prevent even more trash and debris from reaching our beloved Great Lakes. We are grateful to our partners and to the NOAA Marine Debris program for its funding of the installation of the Seabin™ technology at Buffalo Harbor State Park.”
Manmade debris and trash along our waterways not only looks bad, it’s also bad for the environment, including fish, birds, and animals. Over the course of the last couple of decades, there has been a concerted effort to clean up Lake Erie and the Buffalo River, among other regional waterways.
“We are excited to support the work of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the Council of the Great Lakes Region to remove debris from our Great Lakes,” said Sarah Lowe, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program. “With the hard work from dedicated partners and cleanup volunteers, we can all help to protect our communities, waters, and wildlife from the impacts of marine debris.”
“The Buffalo and Niagara Rivers were deemed Areas of Concern by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1987 following years of industrial pollution,” said Congressman Higgins. “While significant efforts have been undertaken to remediate and restore these waterways, pollution from marine debris remains a persistent issue. By engaging Western New Yorkers in community clean-ups and utilizing new tools and technologies to better eliminate sources of pollution, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is ensuring that efforts to maintain the health of the rivers and lakes, as well as our waterfront, continue long into the future.”
“The opportunity to work with the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to expand the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup to the United States, thanks to funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, is an exciting partnership,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region. “Through this new collaboration, we will be able to capture and clean-up more plastic litter in the Great Lakes, as well as educate coastal communities about how we can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste.”
“Any measures that can be taken to protect our waterways and shores are important steps in preserving our amazing waterfront. State Parks is grateful to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for spearheading these important efforts,” said Mark V. Mistretta, Niagara Region Director for NYS Parks.
*The Solo Sweep program encourages Western New Yorkers to clean up the areas around our waterways and collect data that can be used to determine which types of trash are more prevalent to formulate better pollution prevention solutions in the future. The pledge and information on it can be found at bnwaterkeeper.org/solo-sweep/ and Solo Sweepers are encouraged to use the Ocean Conservancy CleanSwell app to collect data during their cleanups. During a Waterkeeper Volunteer Ambassador event at Buffalo Harbor State Park on Saturday, solo sweepers and Volunteer Ambassadors were able to witness the new Seabins in action to help with the prevention of waterway pollution.