Baltimore City, via its ‘Healthy Harbor’ project, is aiming to turn the harbor swimmable and fishable again by 2020
Mr. Trash Wheel is one of the initiatives that Baltimore city has taken in order to fulfill its goal. Owned and maintained by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, this innovative construction is located in the Inner Harbor, at the point where the river Jones Falls reaches the sea. It takes advantage of the river’s currents, which power the water wheel. As this turns, trash and debris are lifted from the water and deposited it into a dumpster barge. When the water current is not strong enough, a solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running. When the dumpster is full, it’s towed away by boat, and a new dumpster is put in place.
Mr. Trash Wheel was officially implemented in May of 2014, and since then, it has removed 420 tons of waste, made out of 250,000 plastic bottles, 163,000 grocery bags, 317,000 polystyrene containers, 7,5 million cigarette butts, 5,000 glass bottles and 235,000 chip bags.
More interesting facts
The most the Water Wheel has ever collected in a single day is 17 tns (38,000 lbs) of waste
On a sunny day, the solar panels can produce 2,5 kw of electricity—enough to power a typical Maryland home.
The Baltimore City Department of Public Works processes the trash collected by the Water Wheel, incinerating it to generate electricity
If you lined up all the cigarette butts collected by the Water Wheel, they would stretch over 70 miles!
Mr. Trash Wheel makes use of two containment booms which direct waste to the front of the machine
The debris raking system helps to move waste to the front of the conveyor belt
The conveyor belt lifts waste from the water and deposits it into the dumpster barge
The sail fabric cover protects the Water Wheel from rain and wind