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Natural Swimming Pools

Natural Swimming Pools

Itís starting to warm up up here in the northeast, and that means pool season is just around the corner. But as sublime as swimming is, what about those pool chemicals? The thought niggles me.

Pool chemicals include various kinds of disinfectants and sanitizers which work to control the growth of certain kinds of algae and bacteria in the pool water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, chlorine can be a potent irritant in humans to the eyes, the upper respiratory tract, and the lungs; while chronic hazards include respiratory effects, such as eye and throat irritation, and airflow obstruction. There have been a number of studies linking chlorine to reproductive issues and cancer, but the EPA has not classified it as threat.

There is a variety of new systems designed to provide an alternative to traditional pool chemicals, including the natural oxygen ECOsmart pool purification system, salt water pool chlorinators, and mineral based purification systems.

But of all of these, nothing can quite compare to a Natural Swimming Pool. These have been popular in Europe for some time, and are starting to catch on in the United States now as well. They present a swimming pool that is part pool, part pond–minus the muddy bottom. They are stunning.

These chemical-free pools offer a balanced, self-cleaning ecosystem that relies on a natural cycle to clean and purify the water. Most commonly, the swimming area is separated from a planted, biological filter area, while a waterfall offers aeration. A skimmer collects large debris and a UV sterilizer polishes off the water cleaning process and assures biological safety.

According to an article in The New York Times, the pools have skimmers and pumps that circulate the water through the regeneration zone and draw it across a wall of rocks, loose gravel or tiles, to which friendly bacteria attach, serving as an additional biological filter. Unlike artificial ponds, which tend to be as murky with groundwater runoff and sediment from soil erosion as the natural ponds theyíre modeled on, in a natural pool the water is clear enough to see through to the bottom.

Natural swimming pools cost about the same in construction as a regular swimming pool, but end up saving the pool owner in chemical costs. Water landscaping is also an added bonus, and truly, they are just about the prettiest thing you might want to see in your backyard!

How to Build a Natural Swimming Pond

Read more: Home, Lawns & Gardens

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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7:43PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

love the idea of a natural pool, like a pond

3:45AM PST on Jan 16, 2013

They really are stunning, I would love one! Thanks :)

6:32AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

Thanks for the article.

6:41PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

Read about them years ago but have still to see one here in Australia. Hoping that it will become a common thing.
We are building and considering having a natural pool as I refuse to have one the is full of chemicals.

12:01AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012


12:31AM PDT on May 12, 2012

As I also use my pool to store water for the land I do not wish to add any chemicals & would possibly harm the pool creatures, I find having a big pool(250,000 litres/60,000 gallons) it seems to keep fairly clean anyway.

12:24AM PDT on May 12, 2012

Eternal G you can not eat your fish friends!! I share my pool with some sometimes noisy frogs & other little pond life & hasve beautiful dragon flies flying over, small water snails clean the algae from the sides, perhaps I might get some fish but it would attract the unpleasant(to me) herons.

9:13PM PDT on May 11, 2012


6:17PM PDT on May 11, 2012


1:25PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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