LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — A machine that runs on water and sunshine has helped an environmental group in Baltimore remove more than 50 tons of trash from the city’s Inner Harbor in a little over a month.

The “Water Wheel,” as it’s called, is situated at the spot where the Jones Falls River meets the harbor. It’s powered by the river’s current and 30 solar panels.

Adam Lindquist, a project manager for the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor initiative, says the Water Wheel has proved to be a workhorse for bay cleanup, but it’s just one of several projects with the collective goal of making the harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.

Others include floating wetlands — about 2,000 square feet of floating islands planted with native grasses they help remove pollution from the harbor and provide habitats for aquatic life — and a waterside rain garden that captures polluted runoff.

But the water wheel is perhaps the most noticeable of these initiatives, and it provides an element of instant gratification, as well.

It launched May 8, and by June 22 it had removed 51.3 tons of garbage from the water. That’s about 15 dump trucks worth, Lindquist says.

He doesn’t know of any other U.S. cities that are using similar technologies for environmental cleanup.

“It’s become a very popular attraction,” Lindquist says.

But while the wheel “is a beautiful, elegant solution to this problem… our goal is to put the water wheel out of business,” Lindquist says. He’d like to see a “culture change in Baltimore… where trash doesn’t leave anyone’s hands except to go into the appropriate receptacle.”


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