8 Clams Get To Decide Whether a Town's Residents Get Water or Not


Clean drinking water, like democracy, is one of those things you tend to take for granted until it runs out or becomes polluted. Poznań, a city in the western stretches of Poland, uses both artificial and biological monitoring systems ensure that the water pumped through the city’s pipes is safe to drink.. Dębiec Water Treatment Plant takes precise measurements of chemical contamination in the water, but it's the plant’s biological system that allows for a more reliable estimation of the water’s overall toxicity. Eight clams with sensors hot-glued to their shells work together with a network of computers to determine water quality and have been given control over the city’s water supply. If the water is clean, the clams stay open. However, when the water quality drops too low, the clams close, and that shuts off the water supply to millions of people. Clams are typically viewed as a nuisance that clogs and damages water supply systems, but the clam-powered system in Poznań has been running since September 1994, without issue.