What strikes me most about the permanent, 14-foot-tall wheel that keeps garbage in the Jones Falls from landing in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is how stylistically appropriate it looks. With it’s large metallic water wheel and majestic white canopy it’s about as chic as you could expect an automated trash collector to be.
The Inner Harbor Water Wheel, which was featured in the March issue of Popular Science, relies on booms to guide trash from the Jones Falls (and if this video is any indication, there is a lot of it!) toward a hydro-powered conveyor belt that pretty straightforwardly drops the many plastic bottles, “random” pieces of styrofoam, and occasional tire into a dumpster.
City Lab reports that a 2008 prototype of the water wheel took 180,000 pounds of trash out of the Inner Harbor in a single month. This one removed 50,000 pounds in a single day.
Watch it go: