Baylor, Waco partner to clean up creek water

Baylor University and the city of Waco are in the exploratory phases of installing a buoy system on Waco Creek.

“Mark McComb and Cooper Groves of the Sustainability Student Advisory Board came to me with the idea, and I encouraged them to reach out to the city of Waco to explore the possibility,” Smith Getterman, director of the Office of Sustainability, said.

The buoy system would be located near the Baylor Sciences Building where Waco Creek enters campus.

“Everyone knows that the Waco Creek that runs through Baylor gets nasty with trash buildup after heavy rains,” Getterman said. “The buoy system would be a great way of preventing the type of pollution you currently see and helping keep our part of the creek clean and looking beautiful.”

According to McComb, much of the trash that accumulates in Waco Creek comes from the “grease pit” off of La Salle Avenue.

“Think like what they use for an oil spill. It’s a series of buoys with floating bandalongs,” Pearland senior Mark McComb of the Student Sustainability Advisory Board said. “It gets everything on top of the water and keeps it from spreading, and it funnels it into a trap that you can clean out.”

The buoy system includes underwater sensors that funnel the trash and debris towards a trap that can be raised out of the water.

According to McComb, all of the trash in the creek comes through campus by way of three openings in a ground system near the BSB.

“It would be put there so everything that comes through would be trapped. Everything underwater floats that way,” McComb said.

Although the project has been discussed for a few years, it still needs funding and the approval from both Baylor University and the City of Waco.

Both Gettermen and McComb said they felt the buoy system would significantly reduce the amount of effort required to collect trash from the creek.

Currently, Aramark coordinates trash collection both indoors and outdoors.

“It’s cleaned in a variety of ways,” Getterman said. “Student groups often go out into the creek or along the creek beds and retrieve as much of the litter as possible.”

In addition to student groups, Aramark is also responsible for trash cleanup both indoors and outdoors.

“When it gets really bad, our facilities group goes out, often in boats, and cleans it themselves,“ Getterman said.

Finally, Waco Stormwater Management would benefit from a litter index of the trash deposited in Waco Creek.

“The sustainability board would gather the trash after a heavy rain and rate it and put it in their system, McComb said. “We would see what’s coming through in a heavy rain and what’s coming through during a natural rain and compare.”