"Lynyrd Skimmer" Clear Milwaukee Rivers ahead of Father's Day

With all the recent rain in Southeastern Wisconsin, tons of debris from more inland counties have been rushing toward Lake Michigan. A lot of it gets caught downtown.

Off the concrete embankment near the Harley Davidson Museum lost lumber and empty Gatorade bottle float among the muck and wait to be gobbled-up by the "Lynyrd Skimmer" - a boat designed to collect debris from the water.

It's commanded by Captain Scott Cassavant.

"Well it's going to be a busy day, I can tell you that. When we have a rain event like we've been experiencing here we plan on having a really busy day," Capt. Cassavant said.

"And we do get whole mature trees - as you can see the dead one right here," Capt. Cassavant said.

Natural debris is the main pick-up for the crew which calls a 2,000 pound log a 'big'un'...

...but not the biggest.

"I'll tell you one of our big ones was a 7,000 lb willow tree. How I know that is because we take the big ones to a crane that has a scale to pick that item up," Capt. Cassavant said.

Smaller plastic pickups are a priority to get for environmental reasons - but heading into the father's day weekend which is busy for Lake Michigan Capt. Cassavant says the big pick-ups also pay off for boaters.

"Absolutely. The hazard to navigation is an ongoing issue. Just imagine what that 2,000 pound item would do to a fiberglass hull boat. You know, the river is quite opaque in its coloration. Someone coming up across the object the couldn't even see could very easily puncture the hull of that boat," Capt. Cassavant said.

The crew took in 70 yards worth of garbage on Wednesday working almost non-stop on the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers.

Right now cleanup crews on the river say it's at a record high - about 10 inches about normal.

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