It’s hard to imagine summer without swimming, and for many of us the ultimate version of that activity includes long lazy afternoons lounging poolside, sipping cool delicious lemonades (or more potent concoctions!) and then diving into refreshingly clear water. And we all know that chemicals are bad, but the chlorine in these pools is a necessary evil, because how else do we keep the water fresh and clean, right?
As it turns out, there is a better way. All over Europe, and now increasingly in the U.S., people are building safe, chemical-free pools using plants and other natural filtration systems to keep the water as clear as a mountain stream. How do they do it? Well, there are two approaches, depending on whether you are starting from scratch or just looking for a way to improve the pool you already have.
Creating A Natural Swimming Pool
The simplest way (and mind you, we’re skipping over the technical details) is to just dig a hole in the ground, keeping in mind that the sides need to slope gently down towards the middle in order to avert cave-ins. The ratio should be a 1-foot vertical drop for every 3 horizontal feet.
You then divide your pool into two roughly equal areas, one for swimming (your standard pool part) and one for regeneration (this is where the plants will go.) Both parts can be lined with rubber or polyethylene. Think of the regeneration area as a water garden, where the roots of the plants act as a filtration system, eliminating the need for chemical cleaners. This shallow filtration area also warms the water quickly. Bye bye expensive and difficult to maintain heaters!
The water will also need to circulate constantly, so a pump of some sort is a must. These natural systems often use PVC pipes, buried 18 inches below the ground, to move water from the swimming area back through to the filtration zone.
And now, the technical details on how to create a natural swimming pool.
Greening Your Traditional Pool
Already have a pool that you’re not quite ready to replace entirely? There are more natural alternatives for you, too!
DEL Ozone makes an ozone injector that can reduce the need for chlorine in a standard pool up to 90%. There’s been one of these installed at The White House for years! TechnoPure, out of Massachusetts, makes a system (originally developed for NASA to purify water for the astronauts) that oxidizes and burns off organic waste by pumping pool water through a chamber containing coated titanium plates. Both options are easy to install and relatively inexpensive as well.
So whether you are starting from scratch or just looking to make some minor improvements, consider these alternatives and make this the summer you decide to go green!