New river skimmer takes to the Milwaukee River

MILWAUKEE -- Whether it's the Riverwalk or the Lakefront, people love being on the water when it's nice out. However, it's crucial to keep the water clean to keep people coming back. This year, there's a new river skimmer that will help do just that.

"It's something else. It's Christmas all over again as far as I'm concerned," River Skimmer Captain Scott Cassavant said.

With the new river skimmer comes a new name. A naming contest was held to get the community involved. The chosen name embraces a 1970s rock band. Hitting a waterway near you is "Lynyrd Skymmr."

"I think it's unique and I'm glad that we had a panel that looked at it and said 'yeah it's kind of fun and different and it fits with the boat,'" Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Information Manager Bill Graffin said.

Besides having a fun name, the new river skimmer is more eco-friendly.

"It's more fuel-efficient. It runs on one-third less fuel and it certainly has twice the capacity than the older vessel that we used for the first 14 years of the program," Milwaukee Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban said.

The river skimmer picks up everything from plastic bottles to 60 foot trees, and last year alone, it collected more than 200,000 pounds of trash.

"We had a very busy day two weeks ago. We did 100 yards of debris in one day! That is five large dumpsters," Cassavant said.

The skimmer covers the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers and parts of Lake Michigan. Clean waterways also provide an economic impact for the city.

"It promotes boating, canoeing, kayaking and also brings people to the Riverwalk and all of the establishments that are on it," Korban said.

The skimmer will be out five days a week through Labor Day.

The winner of the naming contest is from Milwaukee. He received a bunch of gift certificates for winning the contests.

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