Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West has a special kind of magic: intercepting trash flowing into the Patapsco's Middle Branch. Courtesy photo

Meet Baltimore’s Newest Trash Wheel Persona

The votes are in, and we now know that Baltimore’s newest trash-intercepting waterwheel will be called Gywnnda, the Good Wheel of the West, sporting sparkly purple eyes and lashes as she magically disappears litter from the water.

Based at the foot of the Gywnns Falls in West Baltimore, the trash wheel “family’s” fourth and largest member will use water and solar power to stop runoff trash and debris from upstream before the pollution can make it out to the Patapsco Middle Branch and the Bay. Installation is set for next month.

CBM writer Charlie Youngmann visited Pasadena, Md.-based trash wheel builder Clearwater Mills towards the very end of Gwynnda’s construction, as seen in our March issue of Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

You can see the big unveiling in this three-minute Waterfront Partnership video:

Gwynnda’s name was chosen from thousands of submissions by Mr. Trash Wheel fans in 2020. The Order of the Wheel, a “secret trash wheel society” whittled the ideas down to four names, voted on by the public.

Gwynnda is equipped with 72 solar panels and a grappling arm to help move large debris like logs. Her hydro power turns a water wheel that powers a series of rakes and a conveyor belt to lift trash from the water and deposit it into a dumpster barge.

Wheelabrator Technologies, a neighbor on the Middle Branch, is paying for the personnel and equipment needed to offload trash from the wheel directly to its waste-to-energy facility, where it will be converted into electricity for Maryland homes and businesses.

Baltimore City and Baltimore County both supported Gwynnda’s development and provided funding. The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, and Weller Development, who is redeveloping the Port Covington waterfront, are all contributing to the trash wheel’s operations.

Gwynnda is just one component of the larger Reimagine Middle Branch project undertaken by Baltimore City, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, and the Parks & People Foundation. The community-driven initiative aims to transform the Middle Branch waterfront by creating 11 miles of parks and trails.

-Meg Walburn Viviano