When the air is polluted you can see it, smell it, even feel it. But polluted water isn’t so obvious (until rivers start catching fire.) Soo-in Yang and David Benjamin, creators of the River Glow Project, understand that people need these feedbacks. Their solution is a combination of pods containing red and green LEDs and a simple pH sensor. The LEDs light up red if poor water quality is detected and green if it is good.
The project would allow people to see from a distance if the water is good or bad at a cost of less than $1000 per unit.
When things look fine on the surface, it is easy to ignore, but if pollution like this can be visualized, people will certainly pay more attention. I can’t help but think of the statue of Vulcan, the Roman god, who presides over my hometown of Birmingham Alabama. For some forty years, his torch turned shone red on days when there were traffic fatalities. Visualization is a powerful tool, and when it can be mixed with public art, all the better.