In just under a year, a water wheel that was installed in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has extracted over 160 tons of trash from the polluted harbor. Included in the garbage was 97,000 bottles, 80,000 potato chip bags and over 4 million cigarettes.
The device is a solar powered water wheel that is connected to a conveyor belt. The wheel works by lifting trash and debris out of the water using a ‘debris raking system’, which transfers the collected items onto a conveyor belt and then into a large dumpster. Although the device is powered by the water that flows through it, the device is also hooked up to a solar generator so it requires no outside source of energy.
The Water Wheel was developed by two scientists named John Kellett of Clearwater Mills. They have been developing the technology since 2008, and have been through a long process of trial and error to make sure that everything was correct. The first Water Wheel, which was designed to look like an actual mill house, spent three years in trials, before being removed in 2011 because it could not keep up with the level of trash that was in the Harbor. The new Water Wheel was installed this May and in it’s first major trial it removed 50,000 lbs of trash from the harbor.
Some people estimate that this could make the Baltimore Harbor swimable in 5 years, however, the area still has a serious problem with chemical pollution that needs to be addressed as well.