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NEWPORT BEACH : Couple Donate Water Rake to City

Rita and Reed Sprinkel were tired of the filthy debris cluttering the water of Newport Harbor where their boat is docked. The smell also got to them.

Their disgust led them to donate to the city a Hamilton Water Rake, a gift valued at $52,000, to sweep up the mess.

The rake, designed to be the harbor’s equivalent of a city street sweeper, is an 18-foot boat with a conveyor belt on the bow that gently picks up trash and then deposits it into a large bin. The rake will be used three times a week.

The rake is named after its inventor, Newport Beach resident Bill Hamilton, who also owns the Cannery Restaurant.

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It will make its debut Saturday during the city’s annual Clean Harbor Day. The vessel uses hydraulics in cleaning up oil spills and will replace the current method for cleaning the bay in which trash collectors use scoop nets.

“I’ve been living here since 1967 and became so disappointed at how dirty the bay is getting, and since the city can’t afford it, we decided to buy the rake,” Rita Sprinkel said. She and her husband are retired and live in Dover Shores. They also own a yacht, the Viking Princess, docked at the Balboa Bay Club, where the two noticed the debris starting to pile up.

Rita Sprinkel said she was surprised during a cruise through Baltimore a few years ago to see how clean the harbors were and decided to do something about the harbor back home. She and her husband, a former chief executive officer of a Fontana construction company, were struck by a device similar to Hamilton’s rake that was being used in Baltimore.

After returning home, they began looking for a water rake, which led them to Hamilton, who was testing his new invention last year.

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On Monday, the Sprinkels presented the City Council with a check for the purchase of the water rake. “I expect to see a much cleaner bay now,” she said.

City officials promised her just that. “I was flabbergasted,” Hamilton said about the Sprinkels’ donation. “They feel so strongly about seeing the bay clean.”

Mayor Phil Sansone said that although the city could not afford the rake, it will be able to operate it.


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