+POOL: Revitalizing NYC’s Waters for Safe Swims

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      In an auspicious development, New Yorkers are on the brink of reclaiming their relationship with the East River, as plans for a distinctive floating pool named +POOL materialize after more than a decade of meticulous planning. Originating in 2010 from a cadre of visionary engineers yearning for a safe aquatic haven in the East River, the project transcends mere recreation; at its core, +POOL functions as a cutting-edge aquatic filtering facility, purifying a staggering one million gallons of the once-notorious, now significantly ameliorated, river water daily.

      +POOL: Revitalizing NYC's Waters for Safe Swims

      Last Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a substantial $16 million investment, a collaborative effort between the city and the state, propelling +POOL into the realm of reality. Anticipating scaled testing as early as the summer of 2024, the team envisions completing the project by the following year, transforming it into a freely accessible public swimming pool.

      +POOL: Revitalizing NYC's Waters for Safe Swims

      +POOL, resembling a plus sign, embodies a profound shift in perception regarding the cleanliness of New York’s waterways. The team at Friends of +POOL contends that the rivers and harbors have achieved their cleanest state in years. This positive trajectory is attributed to the cessation of raw sewage dumping, curbing illegal discharges into the river, and a reduction in Combined Sewer Overflows over the past three decades. Now, the imperative is to facilitate safe public access to these rejuvenated waters, aiming for the establishment of secure swimming conditions in saline environments. The innovative filtration system of +POOL, comprising three layers and a final disinfection phase meeting stringent bathing beach standards, promises to purify the very water upon which it serenely floats. Friends of +POOL secured provisional and international patents in 2017 and 2018, respectively, for this groundbreaking filtration technology.

      +POOL: Revitalizing NYC's Waters for Safe Swims

      Despite its apparent ambition, the self-filtering prowess of Friends at +POOL has already undergone rigorous testing phases in the East River. The project’s inception in 2010 saw a successful Kickstarter campaign that garnered over $40,000 within seven days. These funds facilitated the inaugural filtration layer’s testing at Brooklyn Bridge Park during the summer of 2011. By 2013, a second Kickstarter campaign amassed over $300,000, funding a scaled version of the filtration system tested in the Hudson River throughout the summer of 2014. Collaborating with diverse entities such as Persak & Wurmfeld, Olollo, Mackworth, the River Project, and Columbia University‚Äôs Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, among others, Friends of +POOL demonstrated the feasibility of their technology, affirming its capacity to filter natural river water sans chemical additives.

      Governor Hochul’s commitment to advancing +POOL follows a summer marked by record-breaking heat, prompting New Yorkers to seek solace in the city’s pools, rivers, and the ocean. Acknowledging a surge in drownings exacerbated by a lifeguard shortage and the cancellation of free swim lessons by Mayor Adams, the team envisions the new public swimming pool as a pivotal step in fostering water safety education for all New Yorkers. The initiative, backed by a landmark $12 million from New York State and an additional $4 million from New York City, represents the most substantial statewide investment in swimming since the New Deal era of the 1930s.

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