The Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to HARC (Houston Advanced Research Center) to optimize marine debris removal efforts in local waterways.
“HARC will develop a means which can be utilized by various organizations in the region to combat issues at hand and create plans to solve problems,” said Maia Corbitt, Director of Mission and Giving for the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation. “We are proud to support their work to inspire change and improve the health and environment in many Texas communities.”
According to HARC’s environmental scientist, Dr. Stephanie Glenn, HARC, in collaboration with BlackCat GIS and Fugro Geospatial, will work with innovative technology methods utilizing Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and spatial analysis to as well as rapid assessment methods to analyze feasibility of determining debris patterns and hot spots within the region’s waterways. HARC will couple its efforts with Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and Keep America Beautiful (KAB) to advocate for positive changes in marine debris removal strategies in the region.
“The results of the project will assist community stakeholders to develop more effective pollution prevention and removal programs,” says Glenn.
The waterways in the Greater Houston-Galveston Region are drowning in trash and litter, according to a recent study by Texans for Clean Water. The study estimated that local governments spend approximately $21 million annually on trash prevention, outreach, abatement, and enforcement. The recent extreme weather events, Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda, wreaked havoc on the region, dumping tons of yet-to-be-removed debris and harmful waste in the area’s waterways.
“In the near-term, through HARC’s practice of applied research, our region and policymakers will have a data-backed analysis on how prolific litter and marine debris are,” said Lisa Gonzalez, President and CEO of HARC. “In the long-term, this will impart the necessity of a regional approach to cleaning up our waterways. We are grateful to the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation for recognizing the importance of this work.”
The Galveston Bay Report Card is a citizen-driven, science-based grading system supported by Houston Endowment and the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program.
After Hurricane Ike in 2008, HARC researchers conducted an analysis of storm surge and wave impacts on land and studied ways to use breakwater islands to mitigate these effects.