Bayou becomes shopping cart dumping ground

February 28, 2011 4:42:35 PM PST
The Bayou Preservation Association is spearheading a project to clean up Buffalo Bayou. The group says dozens of shopping carts have been dumped into the bayou, making it dangerous for the environment and for paddlers. Bearing ditch originates in southwest Houston just off Highway 59 and Westpark. It runs 2.5 miles north where it meets Buffalo Bayou in the Memorial area. That's also where it dumps all the trash that it gets littered with.

Though it rolled in fairly easily, probably years ago, it's stubborn to leave -- a shopping cart, rusted and imbedded in the middle of Buffalo Bayou near Woodway.

"When they silt up real bad we are having flood control issues," explained Eric Ruckstuhl with the Bayou Preservation Association.

This bend of Buffalo Bayou is where the two and a half mile Bering ditch empties into Houston's most popular bayou. It's also part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife's state paddling trail.

But this convergence of two waterways, along with the decision to litter, has created a resting ground for debris. Shopping carts, the largest of debris, are altering the flow.

Ruckstuhl said, "They are taking up storage capacity and also conveyance issues. As you can see, all these logs have gotten jumbled up behind them and created some pretty major sandbars in the middle of the channel here."

The shopping carts and other debris are also a hazard to the ecosystem of Buffalo Bayou that is usually not fit to swim in most times of the year.

"It's a problem," said Steve Hupp with the Bayou Preservation Association. "It doesn't belong there. It's not a part of the ecosystem. The fish, the birds that depend on this area, (the carts) become problems."

With dozens of shopping carts already removed, the clean-up continues and the effort to stop man's pollution of our own streams.

"What we are trying to do is minimize man's impact, footprint on this area, as much as we can, to preserve the natural beauty of what is here," Hupp said.

Harris County Flood Control District already removed 43 shopping carts in November. The Bayou Preservation Association says they have at least 20 more to remove.