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Baltimore’s fourth trash wheel to be installed at mouth of the Gwynns Falls next month

You’ve heard of the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch. But what about Gwynnda?

That’s the name of Baltimore’s newest trash wheel, which will sift through waste and debris at the mouth of the Gwynns Falls, where it empties into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River.

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Baltimore's fourth trash wheel, which will be installed at the mouth of the Gwynns Falls, was named as part of a contest last year. (Courtesy of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore)
Baltimore's fourth trash wheel, which will be installed at the mouth of the Gwynns Falls, was named as part of a contest last year. (Courtesy of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore)

The full name, Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West, was chosen from thousands of submissions as part of a naming contest last year. Baltimore City resident Zachary Yarosz submitted the idea.

“My partner and I bike and fish along the Gwynns Falls and absolutely love everything about the trash wheels,” said Yarosz in a news release from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “I guess I’m just a punny guy. I wanted to think up something extra special and magical for the Westside.”

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The wheel is the city’s fourth, and it’s also the largest one yet. Gwynnda will be covered in 72 solar panels, and is complete with a grappling arm that’ll help move large debris. Solar and hydro power will turn the wheel, powering rakes and conveyor belts that will deposit the trash into a dumpster barge.

Environmentalists and city lawmakers unveiled a second water wheel, "Professor Trash Wheel," on Sunday at Harris Creek Park in Canton. The wheel has the same googly eyes as the first wheel at the mouth of the Jones Falls and had added eyelashes.

The wheel, just like its predecessors in the Jones Falls River, Harris Creek and Masonville Cove, was built by Clearwater Mills in Pasadena. The company, which invented the wheel concept, is currently working on similar projects for Newport Beach, California, Fort Worth, Texas and Panama City, Panama.

Both Baltimore City and Baltimore County have helped fund the wheel, part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative from the Waterfront Partnership.

“This is an exciting day, as we see a true ‘Made in Baltimore’ solution to a universal problem — the Trash Wheel — being deployed on a larger scale,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

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Wheelabrator Technologies, which owns property adjacent to the project, will assume the cost of moving the trash collected to its nearby incinerator.

So far, the three trash wheels have collected more than 1,500 tons of trash flowing toward the Patapsco River, including more than 12 million cigarette butts, 1.2 million foam containers, nearly 750,000 plastic bags and 1.1 million plastic bottles, according to the Waterfront Partnership.

The partnership estimates Gwynnda will pick up 300 tons of trash and debris each year, more than the other three wheels combined.

The wheel, which will be adorned with purple eyes, a glittery crown and a magic wand, will be installed next month, just south of the Horseshoe Casino.

It sure isn’t in Kansas anymore.

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