Captivating attention from across the globe, the Inner Harbor Water Wheel that debuted off Pier 6 in Baltimore in early May hit a new milestone last weekend when a video of the Water Wheel in action surpassed more than 1,000,000 views on YouTube.
“The Water Wheel and what it’s doing to clean up the trash and debris from the Inner Harbor is powerful – none of us should ignore what it means for this many people to be paying attention to this issue,” said Michael Hankin, chairman of the Waterfront Partnership board of directors.
“The fact that is has ‘gone viral’ is proof that people care. In an ideal scenario, we’d raise enough funds for the Waterfront Partnership to be able to support the deployment of more trash collectors around the area.”
The two and a half minute video showing how the wheel works following a heavy rainstorm on May 15th was created by Healthy Harbor Project Manager Adam Lindquist and was posted to YouTube on May 16th. Within a matter of days, the video had been viewed 300,000 times and quickly gained momentum, being picked up by both The Huffington Post and Reddit. The video was featured as Reddit’s number one video four days after being on the site.
“The number of views is really incredible but I’m more excited about the conversations the video has sparked. There are about 1,500 comments on Reddit, more than 400 on YouTube and hundreds on the Healthy Harbor Facebook page,” said Lindquist. “I’m hopeful all of this interest will lead to a more concerted effort by the public to pick up their trash and to do their part to keep our waterways clean.”
The Maryland Port Administration and Constellation, the renewable-energy arm of Exelon Corp., sponsored the $800,000 Water Wheel, which was designed by Baltimore-based architecture firm Ziger/Snead and created by Clearwater Mills.
“People wonder why we advocate for a bottle bill and bag bill – other states and cities have adopted these and reduced the need for projects like the Water Wheel. I encourage those interested in supporting our work towards a swimmable and fishable Baltimore Harbor to do so by supporting these types of laws,” said Hankin.
The Water Wheel uses a combination of old and new technology to harness the power of water and sunlight to pick up litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River.
The current of the river provides power to turn the water wheel, which lifts trash and debris from the water and deposits it in a dumpster barge. A solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running even when there is not enough water current. When the dumpster is full, it is towed away by boat and a new dumpster is put in place. The Water Wheel is capable of removing 50,000 lbs. of trash every day. To date, more than 58 tons of trash have been collected by the Water Wheel and disposed of properly.
Trash comes from people who throw litter on the ground instead of putting it in a trashcan or recycling bin. When it rains, water carries litter off streets and into storm drains, which flow unfiltered into neighborhood streams. These streams carry litter into the Baltimore Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.
If you haven’t seen the video, watch it, below.
Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore
Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (WPB) was formed in 2005, responding to issues related to maintenance and management of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Their mission is to create an improved appearance and visitor experience in the Harbor. Goals include making the Harbor cleaner, creating a more attractive environment, and promoting the Harbor as a destination for City residents as well as tourists.
In 2010, WPB launched the Healthy Harbor initiative to make the Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020. Since that time they have released a comprehensive Healthy Harbor Plan, installed 2,000 square feet of floating wetlands in the Inner Harbor, and created fun and engaging programs to educate the public about the Harbor’s marine ecosystem both on the water and from the water’s edge. WPB also works closely with local environmental non-profits and City government towards a cleaner and greener future for Baltimore’s neighborhoods, streams and Harbor.
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