In one of the more disgusting milestones in Baltimore history, the Inner Harbor's water wheel trash collector "Mr. Trash Wheel" has gathered its one millionth pound of cigarettes, trash and other debris from city waters.
The trash wheel, installed in May 2014, sits at the mouth of the Jones Falls near Pier Six Pavilion and intercepts trash that has washed off streets into the waterway before it hits the harbor and, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay.
The 500 tons of trash collected includes more than 8.5 million cigarette butts that, lined up end-to-end, would stretch from Baltimore to Ocean City, said Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership's Healthy Harbor Initiative.
"In all seriousness, this is an occasion we would rather not celebrate," Lundquist said in a statement. "People need to realize that this is their trash and that it was heading straight for the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
"It's time we got serious about changing the behaviors that keep our neighborhoods and our Harbor from being as clean and healthy as they should be."
The trash collected by Mr. Trash Wheel is measured quarterly by Clearwater Mills, the company that created the water wheel. It surpassed one million pounds in the most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 30, the Waterfront Partnership said.
Mr. Trash Wheel is the first of its kind in the nation; Clearwater Mills plans to install a second wheel called Professor Trash Wheel with the Waterfront Partnership at the Harris Creek outfall in Canton by the end of the year.
It is expected to gather an additional 5,000 pounds of trash per month.