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Would You Swim in Baltimore's Inner Harbor?

A new trash collector is designed to help make the harbor swimmable by 2020.

The water wheel is located between Pier Five and Pier Six. (YouTube screenshot from simwis72 video)
The water wheel is located between Pier Five and Pier Six. (YouTube screenshot from simwis72 video)
A trash-collecting machine capable of picking up 50,000 pounds of trash a day was unveiled this week between Pier 5 and Pier 6 in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

The Waterfront Partnership—a coalition to make Baltimore's waterfront more livable and beautiful—helped bring the "water wheel" to fruition.

Waterfront Partnership President Laurie Schwartz called the water wheel a "big step toward a swimmable, fishable harbor," according to The Baltimore Sun.

Powered by sunlight and water, the wheel rakes in trash using booms that are placed in the water, according to WBAL. Then it puts the refuse on a conveyor belt, which takes it to a dumpster that is emptied periodically.

The Inner Harbor is under scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency due to the state of its water, according to The Baltimore Sun, which reported the harbor was one of three waterways in the country designated as "impaired."

Several factors like nitrogen, phosphorus and toxicants were noted as factors in the negative health of the harbor in the most recent "State of the Harbor Report," which called out trash as equally problematic.

To fix the problem, the Waterfront Partnership and government agencies have teamed up to launch the Healthy Harbor Plan, an initiative to make the Inner Harbor swimmable by 2020.

The water wheel will help to improve conditions, as trash from streets in Baltimore City and Baltimore County flows into storm drains and then gets pushed into the harbor during rains.

The Maryland Port Administration and Constellation Energy shared the $800,000 cost of the water wheel, according to WBAL.

The port administration provided $500,000 with Constellation picking up $300,000, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.

Annual operating costs are $100,000, and the Waterfront Partnership will help cover some, The Baltimore Sun reported, 

"We still have a long way to go," Schwartz told WJZ. "But this is one big step."
PH May 10, 2014 at 10:04 AM
Not even in a haz mat suit. Bleck
David Lari May 10, 2014 at 12:13 PM
I doubt the water wheel on the Jones Falls will do much to abate the toxic sludge left on the harbor floor by Allied Chemical and many others. http://www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/ca/md/webpages/mdd069396711.html#description
Rob Crow May 11, 2014 at 12:20 AM
We need to do what we can to make Baltimore as litter free as possible. Many of the people that live in the city have no idea what a trash can looks like or what to do with it. The Mayor needs to be pro-active about litter control in the city. If there was less trash and litter in the streets there wouldn't be as much in the harbor. Cut off the source of the trash! HEY MAYOR ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO ALL THE TRASH IN BALTIMORE! IT"S DISGUSTING!
Heather Patti May 11, 2014 at 04:27 AM
Funny, I used to wonder to myself when I saw people throw trash on the ground..."do these people throw trash on the floor in their living room, too?" I am an RN and have worked in the homecare arena for 3 years, and sadly in many cases, the answer to that question is YES. How do we change people's behavior and teach them to be clean??!!
M. Sullivan May 11, 2014 at 01:13 PM
The remains from Allied Chemical aren't the only toxins in the harbor.Chemicals, heavy metals, biological, and other poisons wash into the harbor from the streets of the cesspool Baltimore every day. The trash wheel won't stop that. Wait until it scoops up a few bodies. That will provide some entertainment for the masses.

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