Milwaukee’s waterway litter clean-up may soon be on a roll in the form of a trash collecting wheel placed in the water.
The litter removal device will be modeled off an existing device located in Baltimore, Maryland known as The Inner Harbor Water Wheel, or Mr. Trash Wheel.
Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel was installed back in 2014. The wheel is located at the end of the Jones Falls Watershed which drains into the Baltimore Harbor and Chesapeake Bay.
All 58 square miles of the Jones Falls Watershed drains into the harbor where the wheel is located.
The wheel works like a sift to collect trash floating in the river before the debris can enter the ocean and is powered by the water current with the help of solar power.
Since its installation, Mr. Trash wheel has prevented 1,147,660 pounds of garbage from entering the Atlantic Ocean.
Elliot Retzlaff, a resident of Baltimore and native of Racine said, “Everybody seems to like it because it’s nationally known now. I’ve never heard of anyone complaining of noise or anything.”
Retzlaff is impressed with the progress of the wheel and said, “I think it’s working really well and people seem to like it.”
In Milwaukee, the Kinnickinnic River Watershed is 33 square miles of mostly urban development. That amounts to a lot of trash entering the river, and eventually ending up in Lake Michigan.
Emily Crook, junior political science and history majors said, “I think the wheel is a good thought, but the water draining from Milwaukee into Lake Michigan is polluted with a lot more than just litter. There are other chemicals that are part of the problem as well.”
The addition of a trash wheel to Milwaukee is being organized by the Harbor District Inc. The project is expected to cost around $500,000 to $600,000.
To pay for the wheel, the organization would need to fundraise as well as apply for federal aid.
Federal funding for the project may be a challenge in the future.
Recently, Congress denied a proposal from the Trump Administration’s 2018 federal budget to slash $300 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.