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Water Wheel Removes Tons Of Trash From Baltimore's Inner Harbor

by Staff Writers

Baltimore MD (SPX) May 28, 2014

Inner Harbor Water Wheel can pick up 50,000 pounds of trash and debris every day, using solar power and water current to run. 

Photo courtesy of Clearwater Mills LLC. Image courtesy Waterfront Partnership of Balt.

Trash and debris polluting America's waterways is a critical problem in major cities across the world...and Baltimore is no exception. 

The EPA declared Baltimore's harbor "impaired" by aquatic litter - the third water body in the nation to earn such a designation - under the Clean Water Act.

Each year, tons of trash wash into the harbor and are then dumped into the Chesapeake Bay. By example, after the torrential storms last week, debris littered the Inner Harbor as a result of trash that was carried down from storm drains. Not only an eyesore, the trash adds to the pollution that makes the harbor harmful to humans.

But all is not lost and Baltimore is hard at work finding solutions to this problem. Baltimore's Waterfront Partnership just unveiled and installed a "Water Wheel" that can capture up to 50,000 pounds of trash and debris every day, using solar power and water current to run.

"Our goal is to put the water wheel out of business,"
said Laurie Schwartz, president of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, who coordinated the effort as part of the organization's Healthy Harbor initiative.

The 100,000-pound trash-collecting device, created by Clearwater Mills, uses new technology to solve an age-old problem.

 It is powered by the sun and water current.

 Debris is funneled into the device and then onto a conveyor belt that deposits it into a dumpster, which is emptied once full.

The belt is powered by the wheel, which turns as water flows into the harbor. Solar panels on the contraption's canopy provide electricity when the current isn't strong enough. 

The panels also recharge a battery, which is used when there is no current or sun.

Funding for the $800,000 device came from the Maryland Port Administration and Constellation, the renewable-energy arm of Exelon Corp.

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