New Trash Wheel for the Middle Branch Unveiled

| March 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

Waterfront Partnership press release from last week: 

The Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative today unveiled the newest member of Baltimore’s growing Trash Wheel family: Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West. Gwynnda will be installed at the mouth of the Gwynns Falls in Baltimore’s Middle Branch next month.

Gwynnda’s name was chosen from thousands of submissions by Mr. Trash Wheel fans in 2020. The list was then whittled down to four names by members of the Order of the Wheel, a secret trash wheel society launched and managed by Waterfront Partnership, before the public voted for its favorite.

Just like her predecessors, Gwynnda will be adorned with five-foot tall googly-eyes. A video released today by Waterfront Partnership shows Gwynnda flaunting fierce purple eyes and lashes along with a sparkling crown and magic trash-picking wand. Gwynnda joins three other semi-autonomous trash interceptors: Mr. Trash Wheel, Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel. She is the largest such device to date and will pick up an estimated 300 tons of trash and debris from the Gwynns Falls each year, more than the other three wheels combined.

Both Baltimore City and County have supported the project’s development and provided operational funding.

“This is an exciting day, as we see a true ‘Made in Baltimore’ solution to a universal problem – the Trash Wheel – being deployed on a larger scale,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Prioritizing keeping our waterways clean and trash-free is the right thing to do. Waterfront Partnership continues to be a valued partner, along with Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works, as we endeavor to reduce the amount of trash hitting the region’s streets, roadways, streams and storm sewers and making Baltimore a cleaner and more sustainable city for all.”

“Baltimore County is proud to support Waterfront Partnership’s important work in the Gwynns Falls,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “The County is focused on litter prevention through outreach and partnerships like this with our communities, businesses and schools.”

“She’s kind of a big wheel,” joked Adam Lindquist, who oversees the trash wheel program for the Waterfront Partnership. “Over 6,000 people voted and sent in name ideas, but it was Baltimore City resident Zachary Yarosz who submitted the winning entry. Our team loved ‘Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West’ the moment we saw it, and we are thrilled that trash wheel fans felt the same way. It’s the perfect name for a project that will help cleanup West Baltimore.”

“My partner and I bike and fish along the Gwynns Falls and absolutely love everything about the trash wheels,” said Yarosz. “I guess I’m just a punny guy. I wanted to think up something extra special and magical for the Westside.”

Gwynnda will be covered in 72 solar panels and equipped with a grappling arm to help move large debris. She will use solar and hydro power to turn a water wheel that powers a series of rakes and a conveyor belt to lift trash from the water and deposit it into a dumpster barge.

The device was constructed by Clearwater Mills, the Pasadena-based company that invented the technology. Since the success of Mr. Trash Wheel, Clearwater Mills has received near-daily requests for new trash wheels from cities around the world. There are currently three other trash wheel projects being developed in Newport Beach, CA, Fort Worth, TX, and Panama City, Panama.

The project was made possible with the support of the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), which once again played a critical role in bringing a new trash wheel to life.

“We are delighted to once again team up with the Waterfront Partnership and other stakeholders for Baltimore’s fourth trash wheel,” said William P. Doyle, executive director of MDOT Maryland Port Administration. “Each of these trash wheels, including our own Captain Trash Wheel at Masonville Cove, plays a very significant part in helping to remove waste and debris from our city’s waterways. The Maryland Port Administration welcomes Gwynnda to the family!”

Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West is one component of the larger Reimagine Middle Branch project undertaken by Baltimore City, the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, and the Parks & People Foundation – an ongoing community-driven initiative to transform the Middle Branch waterfront by creating 11 miles of parks and trails.

“When we asked residents to reimagine the Middle Branch, the top thing they wanted was to get the trash out of the water. This new trash wheel fulfills our commitment to the neighborhoods of South Baltimore, who deserve to live in a cleaner city,” said Brad Rogers, executive director of the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership

Middle Branch property owners Weller Development and Continental Reality are also backers of the project.

“We are thrilled to see the Gwynns Falls trash wheel become a reality,” said Marc Weller, founding partner of Weller Development Company. “As we build Port Covington, we are committed to preserving and improving South Baltimore’s greatest natural asset – the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. This is a win for the South Baltimore communities, for Baltimore City, and for all people who rely on and enjoy our beautiful waterfront.”

“We encourage other companies to join us in this endeavor,” said JM Schapiro, chief executive officer of Continental Realty Corporation. “High quality water, combined with energy conservation and environmentally-friendly practices will help ensure the vibrancy of Middle Branch communities.”

Wheelabrator Technologies, which owns property adjacent to the project, assumed the cost of the personnel and equipment necessary to offload trash from the wheel directly to its waste-to-energy facility, where it will be converted into electricity for Maryland homes and businesses.

“Supporting this initiative is a unique opportunity to expand upon our We Can Bmore program, which is dedicated to keeping city neighborhoods litter-free and to promoting recycling and other sustainable practices,” said Mary Urban, external communications and outreach manager at Wheelabrator Technologies. “This is a logical extension of that effort, as our local waterways are tremendous natural assets that require the level of protection this innovative program provides.”

This is the first time that Baltimore County will be contributing to the operation of a trash wheel. Waterfront Partnership receives annual funding from the Baltimore City Department of Public Works to operate its existing trash wheels and the City will contribute to Gwynnda as well. MDOT MPA, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership and Weller Development will also be making contributions to ensure Gwynnda’s continued operation.

Mr. Trash Wheel was the first trash interceptor of its kind and was installed in May 2014 at the mouth of the Jones Falls. Professor Trash Wheel followed in December 2016 at the mouth of Harris Creek and Captain Trash Wheel in June 2018 at Masonville Cove. To-date, the three have collected more than 1,500 tons of trash and debris flowing downstream towards the Patapsco River. This includes more than 12 million cigarette butts, 1.2 million foam containers, nearly 750,000 plastic bags and 1.1 million plastic bottles. All three have developed personalities and large followings through their social media platforms. For more information on the trash wheels, visit:https://www.mrtrashwheel.com/.

Photos courtesy of Waterfront Partnership 

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.
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