Summer is quickly approaching and if you are thinking of ways to keep cool, look no further than natural swimming pools. These non chemical swimming ponds offer many environmental benefits including lower energy costs and the ability to support marine communities. These chlorine free, natural pools that incorporate aquatic gardens and marine organisms, are self sufficient and give a whole new meaning to green swimming pools.
Natural swimming pools have been a phenomenon in Europe for over 20 years and are slowly becoming more popular in the US. The first natural pools were built in the early 1980s in Austria where they are known as Schwimmteich. An Austrian-based company, Biotop, is considered the pioneer of natural pools. BioNova, a German company, is also considered one of the early pioneers and developed the first public natural pool in 1998. Over 1,500 natural pools currently exist in Europe. That number should continue to grow as companies come up with innovative designs and more practical off shoots of the original natural pools.
I was fortunate to spend the first 17 years of my life with a swimming pool in my backyard. I spent countless hours splashing around as a baby, all the way up until my senior year of high school when my family moved away. I absolutely loved that pool, but I didn’t like the effects of chlorine and the other harmful chemicals we used to treat it. My eyes burned, my lungs hurt, my body stunk, and if I didn’t properly rinse my hair, it would have a tint of green. Plus, I was responsible for cleaning it which could be a major pain at times. If I had only known then, what I know now, I would have tried to convince my mom to go with a natural pool!
Natural pools are free of chemicals, lower maintenance, natural heating and environmentally responsible with natural filtration. The typical natural pool has a swimming area and an aquatic garden attached. Both of these areas merge to create a balanced eco-system that are mutually dependent on one another. These ecologically balanced, self-cleaning swimming pools combine the natural cleaning properties of plants with bio filtration and skimming systems so that there is no need for harmful chemicals or intensive sand filtration.
The materials and designs of natural pools can vary. Many are lined with rubber or reinforced polyethylene. The most difficult part about designing them is getting the water circulation correct so that the water stays clear like fresh water springs. When pools are first installed they sometimes take a while to settle, and algae growth can discolor the water. The algae doesn’t pose any health concern, it just makes the pool look less appealing. Experts say that the longer the system has to stabilize, and the more established the plants in the filter zone become, the more likely it is that the water will be transparent. The reason natural ponds are usually murky is because of nutrient overload and seepage of minerals and sediments from groundwater, which is blocked by a pool’s liner. UV sterilizers are sometimes added which help kill any germs. More exotic variations of natural pools have developed in the past few years including lagoon pools, which offer a beach entry and may include rock waterfalls that add valuable water aeration.
If you’ve ever thought about installing a pool, consider going all natural. It’s less expensive, easier to maintain, and has a cooler overall look and feel than a traditional pool. You’re friends and family will love it and the environment will be grateful that you’re giving back to the earth.