Q&A: What is a Natural Swimming Pool?
By Debra Maurer
If you are looking for an eco-friendly, chemical-free pool, you may want to consider building a natural pool in your backyard. Wondering how a natural swimming pool (NSP) works without the use of chlorine or other chemicals?
We asked expert James Robyn, CEO of BioNova® Natural Pools in North America and owner of Rin Robyn Pools, Bernardsville, N.J., a few questions to gain a better understanding of this increasingly popular type of pool and its earth-friendly advantages.
LuxuryPools.com: What exactly is a natural swimming pool?
James Robyn: A natural swimming pool is a chemical-free pool that uses the same principles as nature to filter out harmful microorganisms. This is how the system works: The pool has two distinct parts: the swimming area and a regeneration zone that features all types of plants that feed hydroponically on the water.
Additionally, there are aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in a biological filter and in the regeneration zone that take care of undesirable elements. Water passes through the filter, into the zone, and back into the swimming area, clarified and completely clean.
LP: How does a natural swimming pool remain swimmable without chlorine or other chemicals?
JR: Since the water in an NSP is neither disinfected nor sterilized by manmade chemicals, salt, or mechanical means, it’s understandable that a homeowner may be wary of the water’s safety. By purely organic methods, however, the water is cleaned because it is in constant motion as it passes through a biological filter and into the regeneration zone. (As the old saying goes, “still water runs dirty.”)
Plus, because the water is always moving, homeowners do not have to worry about mosquito infestation; mosquitoes prefer to breed in standing water.
LP: Will algae grow in a natural swimming pool?
JR: Yes, algae will grow—a small amount is actually necessary for the regeneration zone. An NSP will control this naturally-occurring plant with aquatic plants chosen for a particular climate. Algae don’t have a chance for survival because the good plants will out-compete them for nutrients. If any algae do make it into the swimming pool, the pool sweeper or vacuum will take care of the problem!
LP: What are the benefits of a natural swimming pool?
JR: The obvious and most important advantage is that there are no chemicals in the water, keeping the pool environment safe yet clean—plus, the homeowner does not have to worry about the expense of purchasing chemicals season after season.
Additionally, the energy consumption of an NSP is lower than a traditional chemical pool. But for me, one of the best benefits is that the homeowner gets a bonus: the pool’s regeneration zone doubles as a beautiful water garden.
LP: Can I retrofit my chemical pool into a natural swimming pool?
JR: Yes, but keep in mind that the area surrounding the current pool must be large enough to accommodate the necessary regeneration zone—and that the zone will be equal in size to the existing pool.
In addition, plumbing will be modified to handle the water’s movement from the regeneration zone to the swimming area.
LP: Can a homeowner build a natural swimming pool without professional assistance?
JR: The short answer is no. An NSP is a well-balanced wetlands ecosystem that incorporates limnology, hydraulics, hydroponics, and modern pool construction methods. The whole system needs to be planned and crafted by an experienced landscape architect or pool builder who is knowledgeable in this very precise art.
Photos courtesy of BioNova® Natural Pools