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 ]

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Elizabeth Myer
Elizabeth Myer

So glad you picked this up! Big fan of the Village Voice!


And I thought that the river was still full of accountats that worked for those people in New Jerssey. I'll never forget the time I was just walking leisurely along the Hudson River  one early morning in late July of 1980. And happened to look down at all the fecel matter floating in the water. Then to my amazement my eyes spoted a well dressedman face down in the mist of all the fecel matter. I notified the police. Ifound out a few days later that he was an accountant from Jersey. Now they just send them to the garbage waste to be bundled up and sent to Eastern Ohio garbage dumps! I never walked along the Hudson ever agian. So you may find more crap in the water way than you would think.


Ha! I'm picturing having someone ask you about a text you just got and explaining to them it's a reminder to leave your poo in the toilet for a while because or else it will go into the harbor, lol.

All kidding aside, it's a neat concept that tries to address a pretty serious problem here in the city (though, I can't imagine waiting a while to flush will ever catch on, but who knows...)

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