Science News

Elastec Manufactures Trash Boats to Help Keep Waterways Clean

Elastec is manufacturing trash and debris collection boats to aid in the reduction of unsightly floating pollutants in waterways and help protect aquatic ecosystems.


Designed to be maneuverable in hard to reach areas, the boat has an inverted bow to usher floating refuse into its 98 cubic feet trash basket. The aluminum vessel can also be used for a wide variety of marine maintenance duties from its spacious 8 x 11 ft work platform.

Marine litter and debris control is an emerging environmental issue as a result of the regulation of water pollution under the Clean Water Act. Of primary concern are municipalities with Combined Sewer Systems (CSS).

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) recently purchased two ELASTEC Trash Boats to skim debris from the Chicago River. The MWRD is located primarily within the boundaries of Cook County, Illinois serving an 883 square mile area which includes the City of Chicago and 125 suburban communities. The MWRD owns and operates one of the world’s largest water reclamation plants and treats an average of 1.4 billion gallons of wastewater each day. The MWRD controls 76.1 miles of the Chicago Areas Waterways (CAWS), which are part of the inland waterway system connecting the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico.

The MWRD receives flow from combined sewer collection systems, which means that wastewater and stormwater flow together in a single pipe. During heavy rain events, stormwater runoff can cause the sewer system to reach maximum capacity and overflow into the waterways. This is called a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). Some of the excess water is stored into the MWRD's Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) system, but too much runoff finds its way to the CAWS – and so does the trash. Floating debris such as Styrofoam, plastic bottles and cigarette butts create health risks, kill marine life and cause flooding.

To help keep the Chicago River clean and beautiful, Elastec and MWRD worked together to develop two custom trash and debris collection boats. MWRD requested a simple design, with few moving parts, and easy to operate. The 23 ft MWRD boats, named Skimmy Dipper and Skim Pickens, are designed for daily trash skimming near Navy Pier and along seven miles of the river.

Elastec Sales Manager Shon Mosier states, “The ELASTEC Trash Boat is a unique way to combat debris from stormwater runoff. Trash flows downstream and into our waterways; we must begin to manage marine litter.” Shon has also delivered similar vessels to the City of Waco, Texas and the City of Austin, Texas’ Watershed Protection Departments.

For more information, visit

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