A Blue View: Making Waves with Baltimore's Water Wheel

What does it take to collect more than 150 tons of floating trash in less than a year? You might expect the answer to be 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 technologies.

Published April 19, 2016

water wheel infographic

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 into a dumpster barge. Solar power adds a 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.

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

  • 234,820 plastic bottles
  • 302,859 polystyrene containers
  • 7,209,000 cigarette butts
  • 4,684 glass bottles
  • 150,180 grocery bags
  • 218,719 chip bags
  • 1,610 sports balls

While the Water Wheel deserves all the praise it receives, we’re hoping you can help give it an early retirement—because preventing 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 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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