Skip to content

Talkin’ Trash

2011 April 8

The Inner Harbor Water Wheel being constructedOne Mid-Atlantic community has a “trashy” idea. Salisbury, a small city located in eastern Maryland, recently installed netting devices designed to prevent debris from flowing into the Wicomico River. The Wicomico flows through the city and has had an issue with excessive trash. When rainfall occurs, trash and other debris is flushed into the city storm drains, which carries storm water and trash to streams, rivers, lakes and other water bodies. To resolve this problem, the trash nets fit over the end of the pipes, catching garbage before it flows into the river. They are tended by city crews and emptied periodically. The nets even have an overflow release function, which allows the nets to break away from the pipe if it starts to obstruct water flow. The net still remains tethered to the pipe so it doesn’t float away while water flow is restored. Salisbury was very pleased with the netting devices, and is planning to install more in the near future. Read more about this great way to limit trash flowing into the Wicomico River!

Other cities are getting even more innovative with their trash collection prevention.  The city of Baltimore installed a Water Wheel Powered Trash Inceptor which lifts the trash out of the water and deposits it into a dumpster. After heavy rains, the city noticed huge amounts of garbage floating into the inner harbor area which is a popular tourist destination. As was the case in Salisbury, the trash got there through storm drains causing an unsightly scene. The wheel is propelled by the current of the water body.  In the case of the Inner Harbor, the current was not strong enough to drive the wheel all the time, so solar and wind energy were employed to make the Water Wheel an even greener solution. The dumpster the trash is deposited into is enclosed in a shed which keeps trash out of view. Instead of having a long boom stretch across an area where trash gets stacked up, trash is filtered into the wheel where it is continuously lifted out of the water and into the dumpster.  Crews periodically empty the dumpster. The Water Wheel has been known to collect up to 7 tons of trash after one storm!

Trash in rivers and water bodies is becoming a bigger issue among communities throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. EPA worked with communities in the Anacostia River watershed to establish the first interstate trash pollution diet. The diet consists of limiting the amount of trash that can flow into the river. Click here to learn more about the trash pollution diet for the Anacostia River. Do any water bodies near you have an issue with trash buildup? What are some ways you can prevent garbage from getting into the water? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. May 18, 2011

    what does it do for chemical contaminants? its nice to know that theres a net there for the old shoes.. but what about methane? what about formaldehyde?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Christina permalink*
      May 24, 2011

      Trash nets are intended only to collect larger physical debris before it enters water ways. While no physical barrier can be established to block chemicals from entering a water body, harmful contaminants in water can be minimized through sound management of both point and nonpoint sources of water pollution (like reducing stormwater runoff, establishment of limits for permitted discharges, wastewater treatment, industrial pretreatment where applicable, source reduction and recycling, watershed management, and many more). Thanks for bringing up that there are many things that can impair a river’s health, from physical debris to chemical pollutants!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. May 19, 2011

    A new slant, thought provoking and stimulating, thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. June 3, 2011

    Very bad for environment

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. May 7, 2012

    Great idea, There is to much garbage getting into lakes and rivers

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. July 23, 2012

    I love the water wheel idea in Baltimore where it scoops the garbage up out of the water and puts it into a garbage bin. Great idea!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS