As the heat of summer approaches, you might be seeking a refreshing dip in a local pool, pond, lake, or river, but jumping in to New York’s East River is probably not at the top of your list. However, designers Jeffrey Franklin, Archie Coates, and architect Dong-Ping Wong are working on a project called +Pool, a giant plus-shaped pool that filters river water to create safe, clean water, that everyone can enjoy. They have raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter, but to get this giant plus-shaped floating pool in the contaminated waterway is no easy task.
First, it’s important to first understand what has contaminated the water. Simply, put, it’s poop. "It is your poop, it is our poop, we know what it is. It is not this chemical from a plant that is someplace else that we cannot relate to us. It is our waste,” says Franklin.
In New York City when it rains, water flows throw drainage pipes and into the surrounding waterways. When it rains a lot, that same water flows in to the sewage system and can overflow it. The excess gets dumped right into the river.
Tracey Brown, an active swimmer in New York’s Hudson River and Clean Water Advocate at Riverkeeper, explains: “New York City has a permit to dump into the waters around the city, 27 billion gallons of combined storm water and raw sewage each year. That is legal.”
To keep you safe from the many complications of swimming in this sewage, the gang at +Pool have developed a simple but effective filtering system that allows clean water to flow in to the purposed pool and keeps the sewage out.
The next big obstacle is dealing with the government.
Swimming is not currently permitted in the East River, and it may be difficult to convince government officials that +Pool will make it safe. The team has not made a formal ask to the city as of yet, but they’re optimistic they’ll have the support of their local government.
Brown isn't so sure. “They don't know what I know," she says. It's great to design it but to get the different bureaucratic organizations to give them permits, it'll be a new experience for these guys. We'll just have to take it one step at a time.”
So, theoretically, once + Pool has mastered filtering poop and acquires the necessary permits, will you jump in the water? To convince the public the water is safe +Pool has teamed up with Google Drive to provide an online site and app that depicts water quality data to educate future East River swimmers on how, when, and why the water is safe or unsafe to dive in.
Regardless, of the obstacles ahead, Franklin, Coates, and Wong are determined to make it happen. With Google on their side and water advocates like Tracey Brown offering support, we could very well see a floating pool embedded in the New York cityscape in the near future.