ABC Eyewitness Solutions Feature

Newport Beach rolling out an innovative ‘water wheel’ to scoop up trash heading towards the bay and ocean

By  Phillip Palmer
ABC Eyewitness News, Los Angeles

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Keeping garbage out of the ocean isn’t easy. So enter Mr. Trash Wheel, the 70-square-foot barge gobbling up garbage by the ton to keep the beach and ocean pristine.

Trash in the streets ends up in the river and then from the river, the ocean.

Hoping to reduce the amount of trash making it to the ocean, Newport Beach is set to become the first west coast city to use a water wheel system to scoop up trash headed toward Upper Newport Bay.

“We really need to knock that trash load down. This is not going to be a silver bullet, it’s not going to get everything, but it’s going to get a big slug of stuff,” said John Kappeler, a senior engineer for the city of Newport Beach.

The idea comes from The Mr. Trash Wheel Family operating in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

A collection of four water wheels have scooped up more than 2,000 tons of trash and debris since 2014.

The newest is Gwynnda, which is expected to collect more trash and debris each year than the three other wheels combined.

“No one ever had stopped the trash before and that trash wheel was actually undersized. That was the first time and we were like, ‘Oh my God there’s so much trash here we need a much larger device,'” said Adam Lindquist, the VP of Environmental Programs for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

The solution uses the water’s current for power when possible and solar power when necessary to collect litter and debris.