For most people, swimming is far from a natural experience since the most common and convenient place to swim is in a man-made, chemically-treated, energy-consuming backyard swimming pool. Luckily, several technological developments are allowing us to bring swimming pools back into harmony with nature.
It surprises many people to learn that it is possible to swim in a backyard pool with completely chlorine-free water. Many people enjoy saltwater pools that feel less chlorinated, but in fact, saltwater pools use salt to generate chlorine (sodium chloride is converted to hypochlorous acid). Ozone generators also reduce chlorine, but consume large amounts of energy and produce unhealthy O3 gas. More intriguing technologies actually eliminate all chlorine.
One of these technologies is natural ionization and oxidation. The products that use this process oxidize, or “shock” the water as it passes through the pump and filter using a very low-voltage electrolysis, and provide residual protection from algae and bacteria throughout the pool by releasing copper and/or silver ions into the pool water. These elements are harmless to humans and the systems use very little power. The systems can cause a light staining on white plaster, but this is not a problem if the pool is designed with a colored pebble or other type of interior.
Another chemical-elimination technology is a carbonation injection system to control pH without muriatic acid, – a substance that is not environmentally unfriendly when it’s balanced in pool water, but is very toxic when handled, stored or transported. These systems work by injecting carbon dioxide into water to produce carbonic acid, which maintains pH at naturally constant levels.
The ultimate planet-friendly pool eliminates both purification equipment and chemicals altogether. It is the “swimming pond” concept developed and perfected in Europe over the last decade. These swimming pools rely on nature to purify and balance water, just as it does in mountain lakes and streams. A natural swimming pool actually consists of two pools of water – a swimming area, and a regeneration and purification “water garden”. The swimming area can look like a typical swimming pool, with plaster, tile, and typical shapes. The only difference is that it is linked to the regeneration water garden from which it derives its purified water. The pool and water garden can be close together or completely separate. The water garden consists of a pond with a lush ecosystem designed to purify water. Plants in the regeneration zone absorb nutrients from the water that microorganisms release during the decomposition of germs and organic substances. Water flowing through reeds and roots is biologically and mechanically purified in the underlying sand and gravel filter layers.
While still relatively new to people in the US, these natural pools are available here and are catching on as more people visit pools in Europe and learn about this natural purification alternative.
Swim Naturally Again!
Build a natural pool and reduce the chemicals, wasted water, and overused energy. By implementing a few or several of these innovative features, your backyard can get closer to providing the same natural experience as swimming in a natural spring or remote mountain lake.
The author has been designing private natural swimming pools since 1994 and operates a partner network throughout the world. Since 1996, an additional 50 public natural and ecological swimming pools and ponds have been built in Europe. During construction, much focus was placed on further developing the facilities from a technical standpoint in order to adapt them to local requirements.