It's Only Natural: The Pursuit for a Chemical-free Swimming Pool

Saltwater systems came into vogue a few years ago, and copper-and-silver ionization and ozone-gas systems are becoming increasingly popular.

And then there are the ‘biologically active’ natural swimming ponds:

Chemical Free Swimming Pool

Natural swimming ponds take many shapes. Some look like traditional pools with poured concrete foundations, hard edges and straight lines. Others take forms that more closely mimic nature, with gently sloping and planted edges.

Natural swimming ponds are relatively new to the U.S., but more than 20,000 have been built globally, according to a spokesman for BioNova Natural Pools, a German company with North American headquarters in New Jersey and three natural swimming pools built or under construction on the East Coast. Next year BioNova will install what will be the first public natural swimming pool in the country at Webber Park in Minneapolis.

These types of pools are biologically active. That means unlike chemically treated pools, which are sterile, natural swimming pools contain plants and beneficial microorganisms that outcompete algae and harmful bacteria for nutrients, leaving water safe for swimming. In these natural pools, water is circulated with pumps to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Although installation costs are slightly higher for a natural swimming pond compared with a traditional pool, the level of maintenance is roughly the same. Both types of pool require vacuuming and hand skimmers to pick off surface debris. Instead of the need for a pool professional to visit every week to add chemicals, natural swimming ponds require weeding and replanting.

"One of the reasons why chlorine is the most popular swimming pool disinfectant is that it provides a long-lasting residual in the water," said Mary Ostrowski, director of chlorine issues for the American Chemistry Council in Washington, D.C. In response to rising consumer interest, Ostrowski said, the group is working with an advisory council to provide information to consumers about various ways of keeping pools clean.

The number of systems in use continues to grow. Nature2 from Zodiac Pool Systems in Vista, Calif., dissolves traces of silver and copper into the water to disinfect it and prevent algae. The system, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, allows pools to operate using just 0.5 part per million of chlorine, compared with the recommended 1 to 4 ppm for conventional pools. Wailani Natural Purewater Systems in Thousand Oaks also uses copper and silver ionizers, as well as an ozone gas generator that virtually eliminates the need for chlorine.

Typically in places like North Georgia these pools are very hard to maintain. Georgia is a prime climate for algae growth. In general we would not recommend having a pool like this to swim in unless you don't mind some slimy algae, there is no current system available that would eliminate algae growth in the North Georgia climate. Not to mention these pools could not be covered in the fall and with all the leaves in our area this would also contribute to very high phosphate levels which promotes algae growth as well. 

If you have any other questions feel free to contact us.