Water and Solar Power This River Cleanup Project

It isn’t exactly a secret that many of our waterways have pollution issues. Anything from chemicals to the trash that people tend to discard, can, and will, eventually find its way to a river or other water system. A lot of the pollution that we can see is made up of plastic bottles, cups, plastic bags, and even things like cigarette butts. These often float along and can be, not only an eyesore, but also a hazard to fish, turtles, birds, and other wildlife, so removing as much of the garbage as possible is beneficial for several reasons, including protecting the ability to fish for those who enjoy the outdoors.

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Photo by Stephen Babcock

One interesting way to remove a lot of this debris can be found in Baltimore. Mr. Trash Wheel, as it is known by locals, is a solar and water powered water wheel that gathers trash from the river and deposits it into an onboard dumpster. It primarily uses the power of the currents to turn the water wheel, which helps drive a system that gathers and moves trash to the waiting dumpster, but on day when the current is slow, it also has solar panels that can provide the power to keep it operating. Since 2014 it has removed over 1 million pounds of garbage from the Jones Falls River.