Baltimore is World’s First City to Generate Electricity from Waterway-Reclaimed Litter

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Catherine E. Pugh
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

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Inner Harbor Water Wheel

Mayor Rawlings-Blake Announces Baltimore is World’s First City to Generate Electricity from Waterway Reclaimed Litter

Tentative agreement will allow trash collected by the Inner Harbor Water Wheel to fuel electricity for Baltimore homes

BALTIMORE, Md. (February 3, 2015)—Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Department of Public Works Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., and Laurie Schwartz, President of Waterfront Partnership to announce a tentative agreement that will make Baltimore City the first city in the world to use litter reclaimed from its waterways—thanks to the Inner Harbor Water Wheel—to generate electricity.

On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates will vote on a proposal for the Department of Public Works to contribute financially to the disposal of trash collected by the Inner Harbor Water Wheel. Under this agreement, the City would pay for the trash to be disposed of by Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Company (BRESCO) in a manner that is environmentally friendly and results in the generation of electricity for Baltimore. In the past, disposal was paid for by private funding.

This agreement is the latest example of Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s commitment a cleaner, healthier city and her efforts to foster an innovative government for Baltimore’s residents.

“This unique process will protect our harbor, while simultaneously creating renewable energy out of our trash,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “This is the latest innovation from my administration that will make Baltimore cleaner, and is exactly what a growing city needs.”

Located between Pier Six and the Marriott Waterfront Hotel, the Inner Harbor Water Wheel is the world’s first hydro- and solar-powered water wheel trash interceptor. The wheel collects trash and debris at the outfall of the Jones Falls River, intercepting it before it enters Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. Since it began operating, in May 2014, the water wheel has removed over 140 tons of trash from Baltimore’s waterways. The water wheel is part of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, which aims to restore Baltimore's Inner Harbor, making it swimmable by 2020.

“Our Department of Public Works is very proud to be a partner in this labor-saving, and pollution-removing technology,” said Director Chow. “All of our partners encourage all of our citizens and visitors to join with us in stopping litter at its sources so that we will no longer need to collect it from our waterways.”

This innovative machine has captured world-wide attention through social media and has become a Baltimore tourist attraction. It is also playing a part in the City’s goal of making the harbor fishable and swimmable in the near future.

The water wheel came about through the work of the Waterfront Partnership, Clearwater Mills, LLC, and the design firm of Ziger/Snead. Construction was funded by Constellation Energy, the Maryland Port Authority, Brown Advisory, The Abell Foundation, and Marriott Hotels.

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