GLOwanus Lantern is Brooklyn's new ally against water contamination

A local non-profit has created a new device to prevent water contamination in Brooklyn, specifically in areas near the notorious Gowanus Canal.

The device is called the "GLOwanus Lantern" and will change colors when there is an event where people should cut back on their water usage.

"When it starts flashing rainbow Colors — usually happens when it rains — the combined sewer system is overflowing and now sewer water is going into canal," said Andrew Brown, the director of programs at the Van Alen Institute, an urban design non-profit based in Brooklyn which created the device.

Combined sewer overflow, also known as CSO, happens when major rainfall in the city causes untreated stormwater and wastewater to go into bodies of water.

The Gowanus Canal is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the nation, designated a Superfund site by the federal government.

So when the GLOwanus Lantern lights up in rainbow colors, it's a reminder to residents that water usage should be limited.

" Altogether, it’s about 363 million gallons of overflow in the canal in a year - the project is really designed to call attention to that issue," said Brown.

Some lights have been given out already in the community. If you'd like one, visit