Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel are making waves all the way out on the West Coast thanks to their litter-gathering capabilities.

The harbor trash wheels have made such an impression on the City of Newport Beach, located about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, that officials there are exploring whether to install a similar contraption at the mouth of its own Upper Newport Bay. According to the Newport Beach Independent, the affluent city of nearly 90,000 residents is dealing with some major litter problems in the waterway.

In their search for solutions, city officials looked to Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel, which has now picked up well over one million pounds of litter from the harbor. Clearwater Mills, the Pasadena-based company that designed both of Baltimore’s trash wheels, has been working with officials and groups in Newport Beach on the idea, according to company president John Kellett.

“I think it would work well in that location,” Kellett said today. “There’s a lot of discussion out there between various groups. Some groups think it’s the way to go and other groups have other ideas.”

Billy Dutton, founder of Newport Beach’s volunteer “Help Your Harbor” conservation program, told the Independent he thinks Baltimore’s success could be replicated.

“Based upon the results they are finding in Baltimore, I would expect this to capture over 90 percent of the trash that comes through,” said Dutton. “I would imagine some would still get through, but this should capture most of the trash that comes down the San Diego Creek and enters the Upper Newport Bay.”

Newport Beach city engineer Bob Stein told the Los Angeles Times officials are still awaiting results from an environmental study to determine how it would affect their bay. If the study works out, and if the water wheel idea gains approval from Orange County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies, Newport Beach’s own trash wheel could be ready to go by 2019.

Officials peg the cost for their project at $750,000 to $1 million – the lower side of which matches Mr. Trash Wheel’s price tag – and would be funded by a countywide sales tax program. Like Mr. Trash Wheel, it would be powered by solar energy.

There are opponents. The Newport Bay Conservancy’s president said his group couldn’t support the water wheel project in part because “it would be an unsightly piece of machinery that would be very unpopular with local residents.”

It seems that somewhat offensive remark slipped past Mr. Trash Wheel, who is fairly active online. He was more concerned with a matter of self-discovery stemming from the LA Times’ headline:

I’m part conch shell? That explains why people hear the ocean when they put their ear to my mouth.

— Mr. Trash Wheel (@MrTrashWheel) January 5, 2017

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...

One reply on “One Coastal California City Wants to Replicate Baltimore’s Trash Wheel Idea”

  1. Love it. I’m from Newport beach. CA and to think that Mr. Trash Wheel would be in both my “home towns” making the waters cleaner. Let’s get them all over the world. Great article.

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