Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel is cleaning the Inner Harbor one bag, butt, and bottle at a time as part of the Baltimore Waterfront Project.

Have you ever considered swimming in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor? Jumping off of Pier Six and swimming around while sipping an umbrella drink? While Baltimore may have some of the cleanest drinking water in the country, the Inner Harbor isn’t exactly swimmable.

When you see the storm drains that say, “Leads to the Chesapeake Bay,” it’s not just the rainwater that ends up there. All of the trash and road pollution do, too. However, in an effort to combat pollution and to clean the harbor (and therefore the Bay), the Baltimore Waterfront Project has deployed a weapon of trash destruction: Mr. Trash Wheel.

Courtesy of Mr Trash Wheel’s Twitter

Mr. Trash Wheel is a trash interceptor that removes trash from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It was developed in 2008 and implemented in 2014 in an effort to clean Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with the goal of making it swimmable by 2020. While in 2018 we aren’t exactly jumping to swim in the harbor, Mr. Trash wheel is making that pipe dream a potential reality. By using the Jones Falls watershed and solar power to keep the wheel turning, Mr. Trash Wheel has rid the Bay of an alarming amount of pollution.

The Baltimore Waterfront’s website states,

“The Inner Harbor Water Wheel, or “Mr. Trash Wheel” to locals, combines old and new technology to harness the power of water and sunlight to collect litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River.

The river’s current provides power to turn the water wheel, which lifts trash and debris from the water and deposits it into a dumpster barge. When there isn’t enough water current, a solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running. When the dumpster is full, it’s towed away by boat, and a new dumpster is put in place. Voilà!”

In 2016, Mr. Trash Wheel collected 1,919,600 cigarette butts, 140,370 bags of chips, and 116,897 plastic bags.

Cigarette butts are the most littered object in the world, so it’s no surprise how many end up in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Mr. Trash Wheel is eliminating trash that would otherwise wind up in Maryland’s waters, but the question still remains: why is pollution making it to the Chesapeake Bay watershed?

While Mr. Trash Wheel is aiding to clean the Harbor’s waters, it’s still up to Marylanders to be the first defense in eliminating pollution that would potentially, or does, find its way into the Harbor. The success of Mr. Trash Wheel is evident from the amount of pollution that has been collected, but he can’t clean the Bay by himself.

If you’d like to become part of the project, go to the Baltimore Waterfront Project’s website and join the Order of the Wheel.

What do you think of Mr. Trash Wheel? Do you ever see the Harbor becoming swimmable? Drop by the comments and let us know what you think.

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