The city is accepting proposals for a Lower Manhattan "self-filtering" pool between Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges that would allow the public to swim safely in the center of the city.
If the plan succeeds, this would become one of America's first urban river swimming pools. It would also bring back a tradition that goes back to the late 19th century when the East River was dotted with free public floating baths until pollution led to their demise in the 1930s.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) called for people "who are willing to develop, building and operating a self-filtering swimming pool to be built off lower Manhattan in the East River."
Among the organizations seeking to submit a proposal is the non-profit + Pool, which has designed what it believes to be the world's first floating water filter pool.
+ Pool has been working on this proposal and has been promoting it since 2010 – attracting significant attention in the process. Last month, NYCEDC released a "call for expressions of interest" asking interested parties to send proposals by 1 November. The plans need to explain how the project would provide long-term public access to swim in the water, how the local community will benefit, how the filtration system could function, and how planning, implementation, and running costs would be funded without funds from NYCEDC or the state.
This concept was first conceived about nine years ago by a group of artists and architects. The plus-sign shaped 9,000 sq ft layout has four separate sections for sports relaxation, laps, and children that can also be combined to form an Olympic-length pool.
The chlorine-free filter system forces river water through the pool walls functions as a "giant strainer" which eliminates odors of microbes and toxins by removing the water's salt content or brings clean water in. The company estimates that about 600,000 gallons of water a day could be filtered by the process.
Kara Meyer, managing director of + Pool, said, "Swimming in natural water is a totally different experience. It's life-changing to be able to do it in such a historic city as New York City."