Public Works Continues Clean Water Rover Pilot Program

Huntington Beach Public Works Department continues to pilot a high-tech solution to combat trash accumulating in its harbor. The Department is partnering with Clean Earth Rovers to test an autonomous marine vessel designed to clean tight spaces and eddies unreachable by traditional boats. These harbor pockets are prime real estate for trash, which degrades into microplastics over time, harming water quality, aesthetics, and marine life.

Nicknamed the "Roomba for the Water," the Clean Earth Rover can be programmed to follow a mapped route or manually controlled. Equipped with a net, it skims the surface, collecting up to 20 pounds of debris before needing to be emptied.  In addition to removing trash/debris in the harbor, the City is collaborating with upstream cities such as Buena Park, Garden Grove, La Palma, Stanton, Westminster, and the County of Orange to address trash at the source and prevent the discharge of trash/debris into Huntington Harbour. 

Environmental Services Manager Jim Merid stated, “We’re excited to finally reach these previously inaccessible pockets in the harbor and remove trash, which makes the harbor water much more inviting for both residents and visitors. Having a clean harbor to paddleboard, kayak, boat, or other water recreation activities, is important for our coastal community.” 

This summer’s extension follows a successful pilot conducted in February and April, focusing on winter storm debris removal. Now, until August 31, the City aims to assess the rover's effectiveness during peak summer months.  If proven successful, Clean Earth Rovers could become a valuable addition to Huntington Beach's existing harbor cleaning toolbox.