Researcher Announcement

HARC Receives Grant from Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation to Study Trash and Marine Debris

Posting Date: 
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The bayous of the Greater Houston-Galveston Region are drowning in trash and litter, according to a 2017 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, have wreaked havoc on the Houston-Galveston region, and they have dumped tons of debris and harmful waste in the area’s bayous.

To optimize solutions to this serious regional environmental and public health problem, the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) is working on sustainable models that integrate data technologies and community engagement. In 2017, the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), along with project partners the Galveston Bay Estuary Program, BlackCat GIS and H-GAC, helped convene stakeholders in the Houston-Galveston region, to develop a Galveston Bay Watershed Marine Debris Action Plan (Action Plan).

The funding from the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation will expand HARC’s work collecting and updating litter and debris datasets that have not been digitized and that have not been vetted for quality assurance, record methodology and/or metadata. HARC will create a comprehensive and actionable analysis of prevention and removal efforts in the region. In addition, HARC will work with innovative technology methods utilizing light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and spatial analysis to provide rapid assessment methods. This will then analyze feasibility of determining debris patterns and hot spots. Through these efforts with partners BlackCat GIS and Fugro Geospatial, HARC and key stakeholders will advance the creation of cost-effective prevention programs and management practices for urban communities like Houston. In addition to completing the LiDAR and database work, HARC will communicate and collaborate with project partners, Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and Keep America Beautiful (KAB), to assess current and future needs in the region.