National Geographic : 2016 Apr
Containment booms Conveyor belt Dumpsters Rotating forks Waterwheel Solar panels 0mi 4 0km 4 Inner Harbor PatapscoRiver JONES FALLS RIVER WATERSHED BALTIMORE CITY LIMIT JonesFalls JASON TREAT, NGM STAFF. NGM MAPS. ART: BRUCE MORSER SOURCES: JOHN KELLETT, CLEARWATER MILLS; WATERFRONT PARTNERSHIP OF BALTIMORE The wheel’s speed can be controlled via the Internet; remote monitoring also indi- cates when Dumpsters need to be swapped out. Floating booms funnel trash toward rotating forks, which lift the refuse onto a conveyor belt. 1 Powered by the current of the Jones Falls River, a wheel cranks the conveyor belt. Backup solar panels can keep the wheel moving when the current is slow. 2 The largest amounts of trash are collected from the strong currents following a heavy rain or storm. River trash tumbles into a Dumpster. When the container is full, a boat tows it to a transit station. 3 The rising star of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, known to locals as Mr. Trash Wheel, is a garbage gobbler with its own social media following. “It’s sort of a cross between a spaceship and a cov- ered wagon,” says its creator, John Kellett, the former museum director who sketched the contraption’s design on a napkin. Built with $720,000 in public and private funds, the voracious device filled 12 Dumpsters with trash in the 48 hours after a particularly heavy storm last year. Since its debut in 2014, it has pulled in some 354 tons of trash. The Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore owns the wheel and makes a detailed tally of its intake—which as of last December included 176,589 chip bags and nearly seven million cigarette butts. Dozens of countries have asked for help in creating their own wheels, says Kellett. Among them: India, for its garbage-laden Ganges River, and Brazil, which will host Olympic events this year in Rio de Janeiro’s trashy Guanabara Bay. —Eve Conant As the Trash Turns The Jones Falls River watershed covers 58 square miles. Its currents carry the majority of the trash found in the Baltimore Harbor. Science EXPLORE Baltimore MD. U.S.