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Newport’s plan for ‘water wheel’ trash barge gets $10,000 donation

Newport’s plan for ‘water wheel’ trash barge gets $10,000 donation
Baltimore's Inner Harbor "water wheel," also known as Mr. Trash Wheel, is an example of the sort of trash-collecting vessel planned for Upper Newport Bay. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

A "water wheel" trash-collecting vessel planned for Upper Newport Bay is getting closer to reality with a $10,000 donation from local environmentalists.

Help Your Harbor, which coordinates regular trash cleanups around Newport Beach's waterways, gave the money to Newport Beach to cover the cost of environmental impact reports needed before the city can apply for further funding, according to Help Your Harbor's Billy Dutton.

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The water wheel would be placed at the top of Upper Newport Bay by the Jamboree Road bridge to capture garbage flowing down San Diego Creek from inland Orange County before it can hit Newport Harbor or the Pacific Ocean. From its stationary position, the wheel would funnel incoming debris into an onboard holding bin that would be emptied periodically.

The vessel, which is in concept development, would look like a snail with a paddlewheel or a conch shell crossed with a steamboat. It could be powered by a mix of solar and hydraulic energy.

Similar water wheels collect trash in Baltimore's harbor. The barges are popular there, with social media followings, googly eyes and the nicknames Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel.

The Surfrider Foundation, a Help Your Harbor partner, applied for and received a grant from outdoor gear and apparel company Patagonia to help fund the Newport water wheel project, Dutton said. Surfrider then passed the money to Help Your Harbor, which gave it to the city.

From left, Newport Beach City Councilmen Brad Avery and Jeff Herdman, Billy Dutton from Help Your Harbor, and John Kappeler, an engineer with the city of Newport Beach, pose with Help Your Harbor's donation for Newport's water wheel project.
From left, Newport Beach City Councilmen Brad Avery and Jeff Herdman, Billy Dutton from Help Your Harbor, and John Kappeler, an engineer with the city of Newport Beach, pose with Help Your Harbor's donation for Newport's water wheel project. (Hillary Davis / Daily Pilot)

Newport Beach City Councilman Brad Avery, who is also the chair of the city water quality/coastal tidelands committee, said it's going to take pitching in from partners, like happened here, to make projects like the water wheel successful.

City officials have said they are looking to have it funded under Measure M, a countywide sales tax intended for transportation programs. The project's cost is estimated at between $1 million to $2 million, and would take between two and three years to implement.

The project also would require review by the county, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies.

Twitter: @Daily_PilotHD

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