Trash skimmer boats in Chicago, Illinois

Omni Catamarans featured in story from Chicago Tonight

The two Elastec Omni Catamaran skimmer boats (Skimmy Dipper and Skim Pickens) operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago were recently featured in a story from Chicago Tonight. The article describes how the two river skimmer boats are doing the dirty work of keeping the Chicago River Clean, especially with the summer tourism season on its way.

The Elastec Omni Catamaran is a versatile aluminum work boat that offers a variety of waterway maintenance and marina service applications. Its interchangeable “pods” are easily exchanged to facilitate various marine tasks such as: collecting floating debris, transporting cargo, pumping out boat sewage, cutting invasive aquatic weeds, supporting diving operations, lifting buoys and responding to oil spills.



On a cool and sunny spring morning, Marty Cech is deftly piloting a strange-looking craft through Chicago’s widest, wettest thoroughfare.

He’s searching for something the city usually supplies in abundance, but this morning, Cech says the pickings are slim. “From day to day it always varies. Sometimes a little bit of garbage, sometimes a lot,” he says.

Cech is the pilot of Skim Pickens, one of two skimmer boats operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District that act as the Chicago River’s floating garbage trucks. Monday through Friday, the two boats – the other one is named Skimmy Dipper – cruise the river scooping up the cans, cups, wrappers and bottles that, one way or another, wind up in the water. They’ve been patrolling the river since 2015, and MWRD principal engineer Brian Levy says the boats were custom-made to efficiently sift and lift debris from the river’s surface.


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