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City awarded $1.68 million for Water Wheel project

During the October 25 meeting, the California Ocean Protection Council awarded a $1.68 million grant to the City of Newport Beach to fund the Newport Bay Water Wheel Project.

Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield traveled to Santa Cruz to address the Ocean Protection Council and explain the importance of the project to Newport Beach, calling it a “marvelous solution to a seemingly impossible problem” and noting that it will significantly improve the water quality of Newport Bay. 

Currently, large volumes of trash enter San Diego Creek from upstream municipalities. The creek flows directly into Newport Bay, carrying the trash and debris along with it. The trash ends up on the beaches at the Newport Dunes and around the lower harbor, and some makes its way through the harbor jetty and out into the ocean. 

City awarded Marshall Duffield

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Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

Mayor “Duffy” Duffield addressing the California Ocean Protection Council

“Newport Beach has tried for years to contain the trash that enters the bay from upstream and the water wheel is, by far, the best solution we’ve found,” explained Duffield. “We are confident it will result in marked improvements to water quality and the cleanliness of our bay and ocean beaches. 

“We are very grateful that the Ocean Protection Council provided us with such a generous grant and are excited to bring our water wheel project to fruition,” Duffield added. 

The solar-powered water wheel will use floating booms to funnel trash toward the device. Forks will rake the debris toward a conveyor belt and the wheel will use the water’s current to power the conveyor belt and lift the collected trash into a dumpster positioned on a barge docked to the device. The dumpster will be emptied periodically. The water wheel is expected to capture up to 80 percent of the floatable trash and debris that enters the bay.

The City will now work to obtain the necessary regulatory permits. 

Baltimore was the first city in the United States to use the water wheel and Newport Beach is expected to be the first West Coast city to use the device. 

The grant money provided by the Ocean Protection Council comes from the State of California through funding generated by the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). Proposition 1 provides funding for capital projects designed to improve water quality and sensitive habitat. 

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