(Courtesy of Waterfront Partnership)
Mr. Trash Wheel may soon have a Canton cousin.
The Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative is raising money to build a second trash-collecting water wheel off the Boston Street Pier Park. Like the original, it will be solar- and water-powered, and collect floating trash.
The wheel would sit near Harris Creek outfall, which is second only to the Jones Falls (where the current wheel is located) in terms of throwing trash into the harbor. It was also the original location for a prototype of the trash wheel that was later decommissioned to make way for the headline-grabber that appeared at Inner Harbor last year.
The waterway also traverses 14 neighborhoods that got organized around the Harris Creek. In a report, they concluded that trash was the waterway’s major issue.
And Harris Creek may in fact be a better location than Inner Harbor from a pure pollution collection standpoint. The waterway that begins in Clifton Park is completely piped-in. That means it doesn’t collect the trees and other “woody debris” that often falls into the open-air Jones Falls.
The Canton water wheel will likely be smaller than the original, but it will be quicker. With fewer limbs to pick up, the new edition will be able to “trade speed for power,” Lindquist said.
The Inner Harbor water wheel’s success was demonstrated last week, when runoff from a storm produced 45 tons of trash in two days, Lindquist said.
The notoriously dirty harbor could use all the cleaning help it could get. Healthy Harbor recently released a water quality report card that showed some improvement — from an F to a D-.
Since it launched in May 2014, inventor John Kellett has touted the trash wheel as easily scaleable to other cities, given its size. Building a new one in its home city definitely fits that bill. And the new wheel is expected to be about 30 percent cheaper than the original, expected to come in at $550,000. Healthy Harbor already has $175,000 committed from the Keith Campbell Foundation, the Clayton Baker Trust and the Rauch Foundation.
Compared to the $2 million needed to pilot a 19-year-old’s invention to clean the Pacific garbage patch, the trash wheel is a bargain.
“To me, that’s kind of a waste of everybody’s money,” Lindquist said of the big money being thrown at cleaning so-called “gyres.” “Once the trash gets out into the open water it becomes exponentially more expensive to collect it.”
In addition to all of the innovation involved, one of the water wheel’s greatest assets is its placement.
“The end of the pipe is the last best place to capture the trash,” he said.
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