Quantcast

Solar-Powered Water Wheel Removes 350 Tons of Trash From Baltimore Harbor

Business

They say you can't reinvent the wheel, but in May 2014, the Waterfront Partnership did just that. The Baltimore nonprofit installed "the world's first permanent water wheel trash interceptor" to clean up the city's polluted Inner Harbor.

The wheel, which is powered by solar panels and water currents, has pulled a whole lot of trash from the harbor in less than two years. As recently reported by Waste Dive, the $750,000 floating trash guzzler has removed more than 350 tons of litter from Baltimore's landmark and tourist attraction to date.

This includes 80,000 plastic bottles, more than 90,000 foam containers, 36,000 plastic shopping bags, 66,000 snack bags and 4 million cigarette butts.

Affectionately known as Mr. Trash Wheel, the floating contraption has the capability to collect 50,000 pounds of trash per day.

As EcoWatch reported, the wheel receives power from Jones Falls River's current near the harbor, which turns the wheel and lifts trash from the water into a dumpster barge. An array of 30 solar panels keeps the wheel turning when the water current isn't enough.

This video from NBC News explains how the water wheel works and how the it could be the solution for cleaning trash pollution in waterways around the world:

[4GFVLI1488151242]

Officials from Singapore, Rio and nearly 30 U.S. cities, including Philadelphia and Honolulu, have called Baltimore to learn about the wheel, Waste Dive reported.

"Our primary goal was to keep trash out of the Harbor and Chesapeake Bay and ultimately support an initiative to make the Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020," Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership-launched Healthy Harbor Initiative, told Waste Dive.

Still, it will take great strides to make the harbor actually swimmable and fishable in less than five years. In June, the Waterfront Partnership and Blue Water Baltimore graded the harbor an overall "F" in their 2014 Healthy Harbor Report Card.

According to the Baltimore Biz Journal, the high level of fecal bacteria pollution, which comes from sewer overflows and poor stormwater infrastructure, makes the harbor "hundreds of times higher than what is considered safe for human contact."

The Report Card did however acknowledge projects that have improved water quality, with the water wheel being one of them.

"A number of projects are going on in Baltimore City and County that should result in better water quality scores," according to a press release. "Four of these projects, that are detailed in the report card, include the Blue Alleys project, the Water Wheel, expanded street sweeping and stream restoration."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
Sponsored
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More
Protesters attend a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court held by the group Our Children's Trust Oct. 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. The group and the plaintiffs have vowed to keep fighting and to ask the full Ninth Circuit to review Friday's decision to toss the lawsuit. Win McNamee / Getty Images

An appeals court tossed out the landmark youth climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States Friday, arguing that the courts are not the place to resolve the climate crisis.

Read More
The land around Red Knoll near Kanab, UT that could have been razed for a frac sand mine. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

A sign at the north end of Kanab, Utah, proclaims the town of 4,300 to be "The Greatest Earth on Show."

Read More