Newtown Creek during Hurricane Sandy

Manhole Eruption

CSO caused by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy

I’ve been out watching Newtown Creek today and the water is pretty high! I began testing water quality yesterday to collect baselines and will continue to collect measurements today and tomorrow. I’ll post a map of those readings later today!

Below are some comparisons between Sunday 10/28 and Monday 10/29

Visualight and DontFlushMe @ World MakerFaire

What an amazing weekend at World MakerFaire! I demoed the Visualight prototypes, had the latest DontFlushMe sensor and saw all sorts of crazy awesome stuff! The Parsons booth won an Educators Choice award!

Thank you Michelle Calabro for the photography!

Testing New Prototype

Yesterday I spent the day on patrol with Riverkeeper and I brought along the latest prototype DontFlushMe sensor.

Visualight Kickstarter

Hello All!

I finally got around to getting the Visualight onto Kickstarter! Soon you will be able to get CSO notifications via a lightbulb.

DontFlushMe CSO Sensor v3 from Water Hackathon

On of the great outcomes for the Water Hackathon held March 23-25 was a new version of CSO sensor that seems very promising.

First and foremost, this sensor was a collaboration with Dan Seldon, Dustin Goodwin, Daniel Soto, John Feighery, Joe Saavedra and many more. You guys ROCK!

The idea behind the design of this sensor was to create a device that could be installed outside of a CSO (combined sewer overflow), in a publicly accessible place, and would use a variety of different sensing techniques to detect when a sewer overflow happened. The group decided that the first sensor would be water temperature. Even when mixed with storm runoff, overflows should be measurably warmer than the receiving waterbody. The temperature probe that we used is a waterproof digital sensor from Adafruit here in NYC.

For the second sensor, we decided to create our own electrical conductivity (EC) probe. The EPA has a some great details about EC and how its an indicator of water quality. Basically the more pure the water the lower the conductivity. Conversely, the more stuff, in our case sewage, thats in the water the high the conductivity will be.

There is great book recently published called Environmental Monitoring with Arduino which includes plans for a DIY EC sensor. Using parts from Radio Shack the team created our EC sensor and calibrated it with solution from Atlas Scientific.

These two sensors were connected to a custom arduino shield which was milled on the awesome Parsons PCB machine.

Everything was connected to an Arduino including a big battery, a charging circuit and a solor panel all from Adafruit and a GPRS Shield from SeeedStudio. This all was put into a small Pelican case and prepped to be installed in the Gowanus Canal.

The sensor is currently offline but will be back up soon after some updates! Check out the Pachube feed!

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

Water Hackathon

If your reading this post, sadly the water hackathon has already happened. But don’t be sad! LOTS OF AMAZING THINGS HAPPENED!

First, I want to thank everyone who participated. We had an amazing crew and it couldn’t have happened without you.

Second, Heather Leson, of Ushahidi made a fantastic live feed of the proceedings of the event. There you can see all the stuff that went down and browse the photos that were uploaded.


After a much needed/appreciated spring break trip to New Mexico I wanted to share a few things. The first is to show off pictures of my moms very own composting toilet.

This is the composting toilet that my mom and her partner have been using for 10 years! Its basically a five gallon bucket in a pretty box with a toilet set attached. The pot to the right contains “cover material” which you add to the toilet after you make a contribution, this is compost by the way. NO FLUSHING ALLOWED!

The second thing I want to share is a graphic about composting toilets and all the other ways we dispose of our “waste”. This was created by my friend Mathew and his partner Molly as a part of their project Cloacina. You can buy prints of these awesome posters too!