Environmental Science Students Introduce New System to Clean Up the Harbor

Students from Dr. Kangas's environmental science class visit Waterfront Partnership to present their course project on green bulkheads.

Image Credit: Healthy Harbor Baltimore

July 23, 2014

On May 10 [2013], the Waterfront Partnership was honored to host a presentation by Dr. Peter Kangas’s environmental science students from University of Maryland College Park. The ten students presented their idea for a living ecosystem that can be used to treat the water in the Harbor, making the water cleaner and removing harmful excess nutrients.

The system, called a green bulkhead, involves a screen filled with algae that can be installed on the bulkheads that line the edge of the Inner Harbor. This algae screen removes contaminants from the Harbor, adds necessary oxygen to the water, and can later be harvested to produce biofuel, fertilizer and animal feed. Pretty efficient, huh?

 The students spoke about other benefits the green bulkheads might bring as a way to improve visibility and educate the public about a cleaner Harbor. They also discussed what kind of maintenance the green bulkheads would require and which areas around the Harbor would be the best places to install them. Their project also focused on which green bulkhead designs would be the most efficient and the most aesthetically pleasing.

The group appreciated the opportunity to address a few other people present including a representative from the Abell Foundation, the Maryland Port Administration, and Ayers Saint Gross, the local architecture firm currently helping to develop a new plan for the Inner Harbor.

Ever since the Healthy Harbor Initiative installed floating wetlands on the Harbor last year, we have been eager to introduce more ways we can clean up the Harbor and make it swimmable and fishable by 2020. The green bulkhead might just become the method of the future!