Public Lab is working to make water quality information more accessible for communities everywhere. The Mystic River in Massachusetts flows from the Mystic Lakes in Winchester and Arlington, through Medford, Somerville, Everett, Charlestown and Chelsea, and into Boston Harbor, and has supported a long history of economic progress in one of the most densely populated urban areas of New England. Today, the Mystic faces serious water quality problems, shared by urban water bodies around the world: pollution from leaky sewer pipes, waste disposal sites; excessive nutrients and discharges of raw sewage; fuel hydrocarbons; and road salt. Portions of the watershed often fail to meet state bacteria standards for swimming and boating, and its Alewife Brook subwatershed is one of the most contaminated water bodies in Boston. The Mystic River watershed received a ‘D’ from the US EPA on its 2012 water quality report card.
Several organizations are engaged in water monitoring projects for the Mystic, but the high cost and ‘closed data’ nature of current technology severely limits the scope of current efforts, and makes data sharing difficult.
Our main focus at first is on developing open hardware alternatives to the current most common water quality monitoring sensors, which measure temperature, conductivity, and water depth.