A Blue View: The Technology Behind Baltimore's Water Wheel

Published April 14, 2015

What does it take to collect over 150 tons of floating trash in less than a year? You might expect some kind of futuristic machine, but the truth is, the Inner Harbor’s Water Wheel has accomplished this feat through its combination of old and new technology.

Inspired by the water mills of Baltimore’s industrial past, the Water Wheel harnesses the power of the Jones Falls River to turn the wheel and lift trash and debris in to a dumpster barge. Solar powers add a more modern mechanism to the machine, providing additional power when the water current can’t get the job done. Once the dumpster is full, it’s towed away by a boat and replaced with a new one.

water wheel infographic

Since its installation in May 2014, the Water Wheel has successfully removed:

  • 96,170 plastic bottles
  • 126,109 polystyrene containers
  • 4,369,000 cigarette butts
  • 2,365 glass bottles
  • 42,640 grocery bags
  • 79,299 chip bags
  • 327 sports balls

What’s Even Better Than the Water Wheel?

While the Water Wheel deserves all the praise it receives, we’re hoping you can put it out of business—because preventing the trash from entering our waterways is an even better alternative. To do your part, make sure you dispose of your trash properly, and recycle the plastic and other recyclable materials you use. Additionally, cover your trash and recycling containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent anything from blowing away.

While you’re at it, join us for 48 Days of Blue to make a difference and give back to our amazing, life-sustaining blue planet! Between Earth Day on April 22 and World Oceans Day on June 8, we’ll guide you through a series of simple conservation challenges and supply you with fun tips to live more sustainably each day.

Your actions can ensure a healthier future for our harbor, and our ocean. Visit 48DaysofBlue.com to sign up and learn more!


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