Newport Beach Breaks Ground on $5.5-Million Trash Interceptor for Newport Harbor

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The solar-powered, debris-gathering water wheel in Baltimore, the same concept that is proposed for Newport Bay. — Photo courtesy of Billy Dutton/Baltimore waterfront ©

Newport Beach City Council members, joined by state and county elected representatives, held a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Friday, Sept. 15 to kick off construction of the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, a sustainably powered system to collect floating trash before it enters the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Harbor and beaches.

The $5.5 million system will be built in the San Diego Creek, about 800 feet upstream from the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. It is expected to capture 80 percent of the floating trash and debris from the San Diego Creek. Depending on the amount of rainfall, between 100 and 500 tons of trash reaches the Upper Newport Bay via San Diego Creek every year.

In July, the Council awarded the $3.9 million construction contract to Brea-based Jilk Heavy Construction, Inc. The system is expected to be operational by December 2024.

The Trash Interceptor, modeled after a similar project in the Baltimore Harbor, will sit on a floating platform that rises and falls with the tide. The platform will be secured to the creek bottom by guide piles. The platform will hold a 14-foot wheel that spins using power from the river current or solar panels to move a conveyor belt.

Trash floating downriver is then collected in four steps:

  1. A boom system directs floating trash toward the Interceptor.
  2. A spinning rake moves trash from the boom area to the conveyor belt.
  3. Trash is deposited from the conveyor belt into a collection container.
  4. When full, the container is moved by a short rail system to be transferred to a standard trash truck.

The Trash Interceptor will supplement other City trash-reduction efforts already in place, such as trash booms, catch basin collection systems and floating skimmers.

Project partners recognized at the event included:

  • State Senate District 37 Rep. Dave Min
  • State Senate District 36 Rep. Janet Nguyen
  • State Assemblymember (District 72) Diane Dixon
  • Orange County Board of Supervisors District 5 Supervisor Katrina Foley
  • State of California Dept. of Water Resources
  • Ocean Protection Council
  • Orange County Transportation Authority
  • Help your Harbor/Surfrider Foundation
  • CR&R Environmental Services

 

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