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Long-Awaited Floating Pool Moves Into Filtration Testing Phase

By Gustavo Solis | April 22, 2014 3:08pm

GREENPOINT — Hop on in to the Hudson River — the water's fine.

A team of designers creating a massive floating pool intended to let New Yorkers swim in the East or Hudson rivers has created a filtration system to filter the river’s water and let people swim without the fear of toxic chemicals. The group is currently testing it out in hopes of having it ready for a Spring 2016 launch date.

“It’s basically a giant strainer that you dump it in the river,” said Dong-Ping Wong, who co-founded + Pool along with Archie Coates and Jeff Franklin.

The scientists are currently testing out their miniature pools inside a “floating lab” just south of Pier 40 in the Hudson River. The experiments will spend the next three months in the Hudson River — before moving over to a yet-unspecified location in the East River for the next three months — to test the effectiveness of the filtration system before construction begins on the public floating pool.

“Our goal this year is to find a permanent home for the pool,” Coates said. “If all goes well we're hoping + Pool to launch in [Spring] 2016.”

Organizers have spent years trying to raise enough money to make the pool a reality. The project is expected to cost $15 million, which backers hope to raise by selling 70,000 tiles that will line the pool’s deck, walls and floor. If they sell all the tiles, which range from $25 to $249 apiece, they should reach their goal, Coates said.

The team launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that has so far raised over $273,000. In 2011, a similar campaign raised $40,000. The pool, which takes its name and shape from a plus sign, will be divided into four separate sections; a children's pool, a lounge pool, a sports pool, and a lap pool, the designers said.

In the meantime, they are testing out the filtration system in different conditions, including heavy sewage overflows, said Wade McGillis, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who has been helping design + Pool.

The lab uses Google software to compile data of the rivers' water quality and share that data online for free. Part of the goal is to educate people about New York’s water and inspire them to come up with ways of making it cleaner, like designing their own homemade filtration systems, Wong said.

The idea of + Pool began in 2010 when the three co-founders were thinking of ways to find relief from the city’s oppressive heat. Much of the city is surrounded by water so it made perfect sense.

“It took us about six years of living in New York to see the water as water and not a border between Brooklyn and Manhattan,” Dong said.