green design, eco design, sustainable design, IOBY, In Our Back Yard, Dontflushme, CSO management, sewage overflow, Gowanus Canal, Proteus Gowanus

We met Percifield at Don’t Flush Me’s first sensor hub, on the Gowanus Canal. Located at the end of Bond and 4th Streets, the IOBY funded project holds a key sensor for determining the status of New York Waterways by monitoring both the water and the sewer.  Percifield first thought of the idea when canoeing along the Gowanus with friends to create a map of the waterways for a Pratt project. Thought the use of a balloon camera and their own boat and oars, they group experienced particularly sewage-laden water, which spurred the idea to create an alert system to let residents know when the water is more polluted than usual. Users can receive a text message, phone call or email during CSOs, usually during excessive storms or if treatment plants fail and raw sewage is flooded into NYC’s waterways. The users can then decide to refrain from showering or using massive amounts of water for a few hours until the overflow subsides.

Don’t Flush Me’s sensors measure water temperature (which increase during CSOs) and transmit the data back to the hub. We also got a first view at a prototype lightbulb, which would set up in a user’s home to illuminate during a CSO. The first test bulb will be installed at nearby Proteus Gowanus Art Gallery. The light bulb idea was conceived to visualize the data, since we are inundated with texts and emails on a day to day basis.

With IOBY’s funding help, Percifield hopes to expand Don’t Flush Me, and hopefully form a partnership with the city, which already inspects the sensor sites each month.

+ Don’t Flush Me