Fundraising nearly complete for Canton trash wheel

The Baltimore Sun
Fundraising is nearly complete for a second water wheel in Baltimore's harbor.

Fundraising is nearly complete for a second water wheel that would scoop up trash and debris flowing into the Inner Harbor, according to a Baltimore nonprofit.

The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore says it's raised $538,000 so far for the new device, which will sit at the mouth of Harris Creek in Canton.

Adam Lindquist, the director of the Partnerships' Healthy Harbor Initiative, said the group needs a total of $550,000 to build it the wheel.

That's about $200,000 less than the cost of the original water wheel, which assumed its place at the bottom of the Jones Falls in May 2014.

Lindquist said the smaller price tag reflects in part the smaller proportions envisioned for the second wheel.

"Entire trees come down the Jones Falls," he said, requiring a larger collection device.

The new wheel will only have to contend with the plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and other small pieces of waste that make it down Harris Creek, which flows through underground pipes in Southeast Baltimore.

The smaller workload will mean the new contraption will work faster than the first.

"We're trading strength for speed," Lindquist said.

But like its predecessor, he said, the second device will be powered by a water wheel and solar panels.

The wheel's innovative design and its success at collecting detritus have made it a model for cleaning up polluted waters around the globe, Lindquist said.

"I think it's only a matter of time for it to spread to cities around the world," he said, citing plans for similar devices in Hawaii and Indonesia.

"But it all started here in Baltimore."

In its first two years, the original wheel collected more than 430 tons of trash, according to data released by the Waterfront Partnership.

Harris Creek is the second-largest source of trash in the harbor after the Jones Falls, Lindquist said, emitting around 5,000 pounds of garbage every month.

If the group secures full funding by the end of September, Lindquist said, the second wheel could be in place before the end of the year.

jcoburn@baltsun.com

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