Natural Swimming Pools and Swimming Ponds

by Rachel Laurendeau on August 31, 2012

Many people today are looking for alternatives to chlorine pools for both environmental and health reasons. One such alternative that has been popular in Europe for decades and is beginning to catch on in the United States is the natural swimming pool. They are sometimes called swimming ponds, green pool or organic pools but whatever you call them, they are an eco-friendly, sustainable and chlorine-free swimming oases.

History/Basics
According to Clear Water Revival, a leader in the natural swimming pool industry in Europe, “a natural swimming pool offers a completely natural alternative to chemical pools/ozone or salt pools. They are chlorine-free, and harness nature’s processes, with microorganisms and plants balancing the water chemistry and maintaining clean, clear and hygienic conditions for natural swimming.”

(via www.inspirationgreen.com)

Essentially, natural pools have two zones: a swimming area and a regeneration area with the two areas most often being separate. The regeneration area is dug out and filled with aggregate or gravel then planted with aquatic vegetation, which act as biological filters, filtering out contaminants and using the nutrients in the water as their food, thus preventing algae. Think of this area as a bog, generally planted up with beautiful plants such a rushes, cannas and umbrella palms that attract wildlife and beneficial insects. The pools generally have skimmers and pumps to circulate the water through the regeneration zone and back into the swimming area. To finish off the natural look and to complete the mini eco-system, stones such as granite river rock or haydite are added. Beneficial bacteria (micro-organisms and microbes) will then colonize the rock and help keep the water clean.

Hygiene/Health
Some people worry about the hygiene of the water in natural pools. As explained above, when managed properly, the natural eco-system that is created actually creates an environment where no chemicals are needed to maintain excellent water quality that is completely safe for swimming.

When the pools are first installed it can take some time to get the water circulation right and get all the right levels. Once the plants have become established and the system has stabilized, the water tends to clear up to the point where it is crystal clear.

Mosquitoes/Bugs
Many people worry that a natural pool and the surrounding plants would be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests. Not so. Natural predators such as water striders, dragonflies and frogs will come to live in the enrichment area and feast on mosquitoes and their larvae. Plus, the moving water and skimmer will keep mosquito populations down as well.

Costs
The installation cost of natural pools is somewhat higher than that of conventional pools but they have lower maintenance costs and should cost less over the long term.

Designs and materials for natural pools are nearly limitless. They can be created to look like wild ponds or like traditional swimming pools and everything in between.
With many people looking for more natural and sustainable alternatives for their backyard pools, it only stands to reason that in the coming years there will be more natural swimming pools cropping up across the country.

Resources: www.thedailygreen.com, www.clear-water-revival.com and www.inspirationgreen.com

Related post: Backyard Ponds and Water Features

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