Posted on: July 22, 2020 Posted by: belle Comments: 0
A mussell with a spring glued to the top next to a monitoring node.

Just a quick one this week. Did you know that tap water in large sections of Poland isn’t vegan?

Apparently across Poland there are groups of working molluscs dedicated to protecting the water purity for people.

The system is simple, water is diverted from the main supply and run over several trays of pointed scallops. Mussels are very sensitive to pollution and will naturally close if they detect impurities in the water. They usually aren’t injured, think about it like putting your car windows up when following a garbage truck on the road.

By gluing a wee magnet to their heads scientists have created a system where the closing action will cause the magnet to complete a circuit and set off an alarm. When the water treatment workers hear the alarm they know to do additional tests to work out what is affecting the water quality. The tiny creatures are so sensitive they can detect impurities faster and more accurately than any digital testing process.

The molluscs are collected from the wild and are acclimatised before being put to work. Each mussel only works for three months before being returned to nature and they give it a painted mark so it’s not collected again when they fetch a new batch.

It turns out they have been using this method in Warsaw since 1994 but the clams have only sparked curiosity recently due to a short documentary film about the Gruba Kaśka (Fat Kathy) pumping station. Sadly because it’s a short-film you’ll have to wait for it to come to a festival near you, but you can watch the trailer below.