​BGE Funds Cages to Clear Trash From Baltimore River
January 2020
There’s a beach of countless discarded objects marooned on the eastern bank of the Patapsco River’s Middle Branch in south Baltimore. Bottles, Styrofoam, plastic bags, and other buoyant trash tossed into storm drains and the nearby Gwynns Falls end up there. 

The environmental damage is extensive. Cy Applebee-Kellett sees it firsthand.

Applebee-Kellett is a technician with Clearwater Mills, LLC, the company that operates three (soon four) trash wheels in waterways around Baltimore. From his small boat, he services the trash wheels and removes garbage the machines have gobbled up. His stops include the two Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE)-funded trash cages in the Middle Branch.

BGE’s floating trash cage is tethered to pilings a few feet from the outfall of the Fort Avenue stormwater drain. Its solar-powered motor turns on automatically once every two hours and dumps trash from the cage to a dumpster. Each cage is equipped with a camera to ensure constant monitoring. When the cages are full, Applebee-Kellett collects the trash and takes it to the Wheelabrator Baltimore waste-to-energy facility across the Patapsco River from Spring Gardens.

BGE worked with Clearwater Mills and KCI Technologies, Inc., to install these first-of-their-kind trash cage collection systems where the Middle Branch meets the company’s Spring Gardens facility. 

“This project is a voluntary effort by BGE to help improve local water quality and the aesthetics of the area,” said Kevin Costello, a senior environmental program manager in BGE’s Environmental Management Unit. “It’s an important part of our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

The first trash cage – affectionately called ‘TED’ for Trash Elimination Device – was installed in 2017 and sits within an open swale at the end of the Heath Street stormwater drain. The second trash cage was installed in early 2019 and sits in the Middle Branch at the outfall of the Fort Avenue stormwater drain. Together, the cages capture trash in the stormwater runoff from approximately 95 acres of south Baltimore and prevent it from reaching the Patapsco River.

Trash washes ashore along the eastern bank of the Middle Branch, which borders BGE’s Spring Gardens facility. To date, the Spring Gardens trash cages have recovered more than 1,700 pounds of trash – the equivalent of a few full trash bags every week.

The waters of the Upper Middle Branch near Spring Gardens are crucial to the propagation of striped bass, yellow perch, white perch, shad, and river herring. The shoreline is wintering grounds for several species of waterfowl. Baltimore City and the Chesapeake Bay Program have identified the Middle Branch as an area in critical need of protection.

This is another example of electric companies investing in the communities they serve and preserving their communities’ natural treasures.

You can access BGE’s original article here​.​