Newport Beach is expected to receive nearly $1.7 million in state grant money to fund a water-wheel trash-collecting vessel for Upper Newport Bay.
The City Council voted 5-0 this week to budget $1.68 million that the California Ocean Protection Council has tentatively approved for the project. Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Councilman Brad Avery were absent during Tuesday’s council meeting.
The state panel is expected to adopt the grant award at its Oct. 25 meeting.
The water wheel is to be placed at the top of Upper Newport Bay by the Jamboree Road bridge. It is intended to capture garbage carried by San Diego Creek from inland Orange County before it can hit Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
From its stationary position, the wheel would funnel debris into an onboard holding bin that would be emptied periodically.
The vessel has been described as looking 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.
Councilman Scott Peotter said the device is an innovative way to pull floating rubbish out of the water.
“It’s not going to be a solution for everything, but it’s going to prevent a lot of this loose trash, especially in the low flows, from getting into the sensitive environmental areas,” he said. “It’s really kind of fun technology. It’s driven by the water and photovoltaic, and basically we just go out there and change the dumpsters out when they get full.”