New App to Measure Poop in NYC Harbors in Real Time


If you go for a swim in New York’s waterways, you might have a bit of uninvited company — the 27 billion gallons of raw sewage that get dumped into the harbors yearly, that is.

Leif Percifield, a grad student at Parsons, would like to reduce this deluge of human excrement flowing through the rivers and bays, so he’s launching DontFlushMe — an app that will alert sewer system users to overflows related to toilet-flushing.

Or, as the EPA’s Elizabeth Myer puts it, the program will advise “when to let it mellow.” (Disclosure: We really wish we’d used that line first.)

The basic idea is this: Untreated sewage gets routed into waterways when the system is overloaded. So, Percifield will hook up a sensor to a cell phone, and attach this prototype to a point in the system to detect overloads. When the contraption smells trouble, it will send out SMS alerts to subscribers, telling them not to flush.

From Percifield’s blog, it looks like DontFlushMe is still under development, but you can still sign up for sewage-oriented text alerts.

Runnin’ Scared has reached out to Percifield to chat about his startup. We’ll update the post once we hear back.

[Hat tip: Greening the Apple ]