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Inner Harbor Living Laboratory
Waterfront Partnership sees the Inner Harbor as a living laboratory for stormwater management demostration projects. Several projects are already developed and in their initial testing stages. Through the success of these projects we hope to encourage their use on a wider scale. For example, MD Department of the Environment is closely monitoring our progress with floating wetlands for possible implementation around the State.
- Floating Wetlands Islands
- Solar Powered Water Wheel Trash Interceptor
- Chase Pier Waterfalls and Constructed Wetlands
- Pierce's Park Rain Gardens
- Algae Turf Scrubber (coming soon!)
Floating Wetland Islands
In August 2010, the National Aquarium and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore installed floating wetlands in an attempt to regain the services provided by the natural tidal wetlands that were lost when the Harbor was developed. The Aquarium wetlands are made of recycled mesh and buoyant marine foam. The Waterfront Partnership wetlands were built by Living Classrooms school children and are made of coconut fiber mats, biochar charcoal, and recycled plastic containers (obtained via floating trash from the harbor) for buoyancy.
Waterfront Partnerhsip has recently been awarded a grant from the Abell Foundation to expand our existing 200 square feet of floating wetlands to 2,000 square feet. The expansion will take place in Spring 2012 and will be the largest installation of floating wetlands in Maryland.
Monitoring over the past year has provided an assessment of the pilot wetlands projects. The result shows many beneficial and restorative outcomes.
Stormwater runoff carries trash and debris from the County and City and deposits it in the Harbor. The Solar Powered Water Wheel Trash Interceptor included a floating dumpster and a trash-loading conveyor system powered by water current and solar power. A floating trash boom funneled trash to the front of the conveyor for pickup.
The Water Wheel Powered Trash Interceptor was invented by Clearwater Mills, LLC and, when installed, was an important part of Baltimore Harbor’s trash reduction strategy. It was first located in the Jones Falls on February 5, 2008 and in just three months of operation removed 130,000 lbs of trash and debris. Adjacent businesses and residents saw a noticeable reduction in trash floating in the open waters of the Harbor. However, it was determined that the device was not of sufficient size to capture the high volume of debris coming down the Jones Falls and as a result the Department of Public Works moved the intercept to Harris Creek. In August 2011 the Department of Public Works removed the Water Wheel from Harris Creek.
Waterfront Partnership believes that the Water Wheel can once again be an important part of reducing trash in the Harbor. We are working with the City and Clearwater to ensure an adequately sized Water Wheel is constructed and placed in the Jones Falls and an appropriate intercept is also placed at the Harris Creek outfall. These two outfalls empty the largest amounts of debris in the Harbor and until public education and other measures eliminate the need for such capture devices, it is critical that we intercept the debris to keep it from flowing into the larger Harbor basin.
Chase Pier is an unused and degraded pier in the Fells Point neighborhood that Waterfront Partnership, working with Biohabitats, is hoping to turn into a sculptural public attraction that removes water from the Harbor, cleans it, and returns it. A constructed wetland on top of the pier will filter bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other pollutants. Waterfalls, powered by solar pumps, will add oxygen to the water to improve the habitat for aquatic life.
The Chase Pier wetland and waterfalls will improve aesthetics, water and air quality, and habitat, and provide an opportunity for public education and green jobs. A feasibility study is currently underway.
Pierce's Park Rain Gardens
Opening in Spring 2012, Pierce's Park is a new park currently under construction in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Pierce’s park will be a place for imagination, community, nature and urban life to co-exist. The park will include works of art that kids can climb on or interact with, a "willow tunnel" to explore, earth berms, two rain gardens to catch rainwater, native plantings, and other green features designed to surpass stormwater mitigation requirements and meet the city's goals for sustainability.