When it comes to cleaning up the polluted Baltimore Harbor, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel. Literally.
Sitting permanently at the mouth of the Jones Falls stream in Baltimore between Pier 6 and Harbor East, is the Water Wheel Trash Inceptor.
So what does this large, round object do? For starters, this water wheel cleans up the harbor — sucking up to 50,000 pounds of trash a day, or about 750,000 pounds of trash a year, estimates say. At this rate, the organizers at the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore hope that the Harbor might actually be safe for swimmers by 2020.
Impressively, the wheel (which is powered by solar panels and water currents) is also generating 2,500 watts of electricity a day, an amount that could power the average Maryland home, Inhabit reports.
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“I was tired of always hearing tourists say ‘ugh, this harbor’s disgusting’,” Water Wheel co-designer John Kellett told Inhabit. “I thought, there’s got to be a better way than collecting trash on our front doorstep.” In a mere seven months, Kellett and his partner Daniel Chase at Clearwater Mills successfully built their trash-collecting contraption. (To see how it works, watch the videos below.)
Besides those aforementioned benefits (which are downright great), the wheel is also improving the quality of water for the fish and underwater ecosystems. And that’s not all. As WBAL-TV points out, the wheel is helping educate kids and adults about keeping trash off the streets.
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“It’s a thrill to see this new technology being applied to an age-old problem like trash,” Laurie Schwartz, the president of Waterfront Partnership, told the local television station.
Sounds like the wheel — which was originally designed to move items somewhere, but is now being used to remove unwanted things — really has come full circle.