inhabitants, swimming in the East ….
inhabitants, swimming in the East River is about as palatable as cozying up to a port-a-potty.
So, what if, in addition to providing the city’s residents with a new and clean place to cool down, the pool could also play a role in reducing the river’s pollution.
The foursome came up with a plan: why not clean the East River, like tap water is cleaned with a Brita Filter.
According to its website, the motivation behind launching +POOL, is “to get into the river. The project was launched with the ambition to improve the use of the city’s natural resources by providing a clean and safe way for the public to swim in New York’s waters. Like a giant strainer dropped into the river, +POOL will filter bacteria and contaminants through concentric layers of filtration materials that make up the walls of the pool itself—leaving only clean, safe and swimmable river water.”
And to make it accessible to every possible demographic, they decided it should be shaped like a plus symbol, so there could be bathing options for every type of swimmer.
According to Coates, “We thought, We need to have four pools” — separate ones for a kids, sports, lap swimmers and loungers.
The idea was so outlandish, from the start it got the media’s attention. In 2011, the Huffington Post featured an article about the concept, describing how “The pool’s walls would use a state-of-the-art filtration system so that New Yorkers would actually be swimming in the East River water— which supporters hope would create momentum for the city to actually make the river itself cleaner.”
The Wall Street Journal ran a story called “An East River Pool? Maybe This Idea Isn’t Off the Deep End.”
Time magazine named it one of the 25 best inventions of 2013.
The planners posted a request for contributions on Kickstarter, and began hosting benefit parties. With those resources they started testing the plan and improving the filtration system using a floating laboratory anchored at Pier 40 in the Hudson River.
Their filtration plans needed to account for both river water quality in addition to bather waste when people are in the pool. Using EPA software to model the project, their engineering teams determined that the proposed membrane filtration systems would be able to treat the water to swimmable standards After performing thousands of tests, the designers were able to certify their system cleans river water to a standard that’s higher than any city pool. It meets the standards of city and state codes.
In 2017, they announced a partnership with Heineken’s urban environments initiative, The Cities Project, and got thousands to sign a petition in support of the project to prove its appeal to the city government.
In 2019, the city’s Economic Development Corporation issued a request for expression of interest (RFEI). Heineken and a developer helped pay for a plus-shaped light sculpture near the South StreetSeaporttocallattentiontotheproject.
Now, the dream is finally becoming a reality. Mayoral candidates are talking about it. Andrew Yang even included it in his platform.
Next steps involve regulations and funding – it’s estimated to cost about $25 million to build. They still need to work out how the pool will be tethered to the riverbed, and plan the specifics of the gangways, the entryway, changing rooms and showers.
But if all goes according to schedule, the Olympic-size swimming pool should be completed in two years.
Plus Pool Map. Photo credit: https://pluspool.org/pool/design/