At a time when people, more than ever, are aware of the dangerous chemicals associated with products they use every day, it’s no surprise that this consciousness has made its way into people's thoughts about the places they spend their time. When taking a dip in a pool, swimmers know that chlorine and other chemicals are used to keep the water safe and clean from harmful bacteria. But as concerns rise regarding the effects of prolonged exposure to these chemicals, people tend to look into what alternatives are available. One common alternative that comes up is the natural swimming pool.
While a relatively new idea in the United States, natural pools have been seen in Europe for decades. The first natural swimming pool was built in Austria in the 1980's. The private pool began to gain popularity, and the first public natural swimming pool was built in Germany in 1998. Now, there are over 20,000 private and public natural pools in Europe. In recent years, we have started to see this trend gain traction in the United States, with many choosing to add natural pools in their own backyards. Due to regulatory reasons, natural pools have really only been developed for residential, private use. However, last summer, the very first public natural swimming pool opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Due to the strict chemical requirements of public pools in the United States, this project required many layers of approval from the state legislature to become a pilot project for this type of pool. Should the project prove successful and efficient, we will likely see more natural pools in the United States in the near future.
Natural pools consist of two areas: the swimming pool and the regeneration zone. These two spaces can be located directly next to one other or in completely separate areas. The pool works by filtering water through biological filters before reaching the regeneration basin. Natural gravity can drain the water to the regeneration area, or pumps can be utilized to send the water to the basin. The regeneration zone consists of plants which create an ecosystem to clean the water. The plants and gravel in the basin help remove any harmful bacteria from the water before it is pumped back into the main pool area. Pool skimmers are also often used to keep the water surface clear of debris.
The primary advantage of natural pools is that there is no chemical use, which can lower maintenance costs. Additionally, the regeneration area can serve as a home for some wildlife. However, where there are advantages, there are also drawbacks. Projects like this often require a larger footprint than a typical pool due to the regeneration zone. Project scale should always be considered. Additionally, it can take some time for the artificial ecosystem to take effect. This initially could cause issues with algae and other organisms running rampant in the regeneration zone. But after time, this problem diminishes. Natural pools tend to have a more greenish color than traditional swimming pools, which can be concerning for some swimmers. But, swimmers who are used to the crystal clear blue of traditional swimming pools can swim assured knowing the natural pool is keeping the water clean and safe for them to enjoy.
Whether a natural swimming pool is designed to look like a pond or a traditional pool, users can enjoy an experience that is new and unique, yet familiar and enjoyable.