Welcome To The World Of Natural Swimming Pools In Africa
There are many fly-by-night companies and imitators that try to build Natural Pools, mostly with terrible results. Pools that are poorly designed tend to leak, stay green, and build up slime, string algae and sediment. Problematic pools are extremely difficult to maintain and expensive to run. There is as much of a difference between the quality and performance of pools as there is between properly and poorly built tools.
This site has been sponsored and created by EcoPools to inform and guide the South African general public so that they can build Natural Swimming Pools that work, using open-source technology.
What Are Natural Swimming Pools?
Natural Swimming Pools are functional swimming pools that use natural filtration instead of chemicals to keep the water clean. They are called different things by different people: Eco Pools™, Organic Swimming Pools, Nature Pools, Chemical Free Pools, Ecological Pools, Green Pools, Wetland Pools, Bio-Pools, Biological Pools, Mountain Pools, Spring Pools, Reed-bed Pools, Pure Water Pools, Plant Pools, Freshwater Pools, Swimming Ponds, etc…
Internationally, they are known as Natural Swimming Pools, or NSPs for short, as opposed to conventional swimming pools that depend on artificial mechanisms to keep them clean.
How NSPs Differ From Chemical Pools
Natural Swimming Pools differ from conventional pools in that the water is kept clean and clear by circulating it through a biological filter instead of using chlorine or salt (which produces chlorine) to kill algae and bacteria. The result is a lush water garden full of life, cradling a clear, natural pool, the water of which is clear, soft and healthy with no artificial chemicals at all. Biological filtration has been used to purify water in public water works for centuries. Properly designed Natural Swimming Pools take this filtering process to the point where the water has no algae.
Basic Design Principles
Natural Pools are generally separated into two zones: the swimming zone, which is a deeper area free of plants, and the natural filter zone, which is generally planted with water loving plants.
Although generally invisible to the naked eye, water bodies attract pollutants such as dead skin, body oils, sweat, dust, pollen, leaves and other debris that fall into them. In NSPs, this water is moved into the filter zone where pollutants are broken down biologically and removed from the system.
The filter zone can be in the same basin as the swimming zone, separated by an internal wall of some kind. Or, the filter can be in a separate basin. The filter basin can be higher or lower than the swim zone and linked with a pump and a returning cascade. Filters can also be built as stand-alone water features, linked to the swimming zone through below-ground pipes or open channels.
How Natural Swimming Pools Work
Natural Pool technology is all about nutrients in the water. Water attracts and absorbs organic matter which the polarity of the water molecule breaks down into simple nutrients that any gardener will have heard about: nitrates, phosphates, potassium, etc. In chemical pools, these nutrients are used by algae and bacteria as a food source. That is why, when chlorine is not added regularly, the water goes green or cloudy.
In natural pools, the planted ecosystem is set up so that water moves through filters inoculated with beneficial micro-organisms. Wastes are broken down here and absorbed by the roots of water plants, leaving very few nutrients available for algae and pathogens to develop. As the plants grow, they strip the water of impurities, leaving behind clean, fresh water.
The system is based on natural principles whereby the forces of nature are harnessed rather than combated. This has a variety of benefits…
The Benefits Of Natural Pools
If properly designed, once established, Natural Swimming Pools are essentially self-regulating. This is because the system is designed to grow into a completely balanced aquatic ecosystem. The only maintenance required is cutting away dead plant material, vacuuming the bottom of the swimming zone and emptying leaf collectors from time to time if these are installed. This means that the complex, ongoing chemical balancing needed to keep swimming pool water clear is completely eliminated.
Long term cost saving
Once the pool is established, the running costs are much less. No chemicals, no chemical water testing, lower electricity costs since smaller consumption pumps are normally used.
The experience of swimming in water without chemicals is the same as swimming in a clear mountain pool, or a sparkling stream. No burning eyes, dry hair, or itchy skin. No chemicals or additives, only pure, clean, natural water. This is the greatest benefit of Natural Pools over chemical and salt pools.
Chlorine and its breakdown by-products have been linked to cancer, allergies, asthma and immune stress. Natural pools are clean and pure and assist the health of those swimming in them. The aquatic ecosystem also ionizes pollution and allergens.
The swimming season is extended as the shallow aquatic garden acts as a natural solar heater. Every day of the year, you will be treated to an exquisite, tranquil, ever-changing aqua-scape full of flowers, dragon flies, frogs and birds. Natural swimming pools are not just for swimming, they are landscaping features that invite nature into your backyard.