Inner Harbor’s Water Trash Wheel Becomes Internet Sensation

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore’s trash is an internet sensation and that might be a good thing.

Alex Demetrick reports, the draw is how trash is getting picked up.

The water wheel is moored where the Jones Falls enters Baltimore’s inner harbor. It’s sole job is to collect trash and debris that flows downstream. It works really well.

“We’re up to 85-tons in slightly more than two months, so it’s been coming fast and furious and we’re keeping up with it,” said Daniel Chase, the wheels co-developer.

So are a lot of YOUTUBE followers. The video of a recent heavy flow of trash has been viewed more than a million times. In large part because the Inner Harbor wheel is the only machine of its kind in the world. A case of necessity really being the mother of the invention. Here’s why.

Every time it rains, trash and debris float to a storm drain and the Jones Falls.

“And that begins all the way up in Owings Mills in Baltimore County, comes down through the city and empties right here at the Inner Harbor,” said Adam Lindquist with Waterfront Partnership.

Using the Jones Falls current to turn the water wheel and solar panels for power when the current is weak, the wheel drives the rakes that snag the trash and a converter belt carries it to a removable dumpster.

“It can fill a dumpster in and hour and a half to two hours. When it’s really coming down, we’re out here changing dumpsters,” said Chase.

While it’s great at picking up trash, the big goal is to keep litter from entering the water to begin with.

“Our goal is to put the water wheel out of business. Five, ten years from now we don’t want to need a water wheel anymore because people are no longer littering and dumping around the city,” said Lindquist.

But for now, there’s plenty to keep this wheel turning.

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