Case Study: Trash Hunter Cleaning up the Passaic River


  • Lower Passaic is a 17 mile stretch of river in New Jersey
  • Decades of industrial dumping has polluted sediment
  • Passaic River systems’ drainage basin covers 935 miles
  • EPA declared this a Superfund Site to remove contaminants
  • Floatables removal added to the Passaic River/Newark Bay Restoration Program

Passaic River, New Jersey


  • Sewer systems discharge debris into waters during periods of wet weather
  • Development within the 935 square mile river drainage basin worsens flooding
  • River flow is constantly moving debris toward Newark Bay
  • Debris washes in with the tide every day


The 50-foot long, 13-foot-wide Aquarius Systems TH-34 Trash Skimmer vessel features twin catamaran hulls and a water jet propulsion system. The Trash Hunter® operates for 10 months out of the year removing floating debris and litter for the 10-mile stretch of the Passaic River.

Wings on the front of the boat direct debris onto conveyor belts that move the conveyor into an onboard storage hold.  When the boat reaches capacity, the conveyor belts discharge the debris onto an Offloading Conveyor and into a dumpster before it is disposed of at a landfill.

Aquatic Debris Skimmer on the Passaic River.

TH-34 Operating on the Passaic River in New Jersey.

A 10-member crew collect an average of 40,000 pounds of trash per month. Anything from bottles, cans, shoes, trees stumps, clothing, furniture. You name it and they've pulled it from the river. And there's always more to collect since each new tide brings new trash.

The program, which started in 1998, has collected about 372 tons (744,000 pounds) of trash and debris annually from the Lower Passaic River. Debris that would have flowed into Newark Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean. To put 372 tons in perspective; picture the 5-gallon jug on a water cooler. 48 of those jugs equal one ton.........that means 17,856 5-gallon water jugs worth of debris is removed annually.