Sticky summer weather makes us long to be submerged in cool, clean water. After a couple of 90 degree days, it's time to bury the hatchet with the neighbor who has a pool and break out the floating lounge chair. Although days spend around the pool are a summer standby, many have neglected to stop and think about the incredibly potent chemical stew they're marinating in when enjoying a traditional pool, especially a public or community pool. But pools, especially the high traffic kind, need chemicals to keep them sanitary, right? Not anymore.
A recent article in Natural Home magazine brought to my attention a small but determined movement in Europe that has adventurous homeowners installing natural pools: "...a clever, chemical-free mix of water garden and the swimming hole."
Water plants foster the growth of beneficial microorganisms that kill bacteria and keep natural pools clean enough to comply with the European Union’s strict water quality standards. The plant portion, or regeneration zone, is separated from the swimming area by a wall concealed a few inches below the water’s surface. Sunlight heats the water in the regeneration zone naturally, and the warm water gradually filters into the two-meter-deep swimming area. A synthetic pool liner keeps the whole thing from leaking.
As expected, American's have been slow to catch on to this green trend, especially since the National Spa and Pool Foundation refusing to endorse chemical-free pools. I mean, a pool without chemicals in it can't possibly be clean, can it?!
Another reason for the lack of natural pools in America is probably that it takes a lot of money and effort to renovate an existing pool and add the square footage necessary for the "regeneration zone," and installing a natural pool from the get-go can be even more expensive. But never fear, there are some ways to reduce the toxicity of your pool that don't require water lilies or microorganisms.
- Mineral Sanitizer: Nature2 Express is a quick, affordable and eco-friendly sanitizer that uses the mineral elements of silver and copper, with a very small amount of chlorine, to inhibit bacteria and eliminate contaminants. It installs easily on most existing pool plumbing systems, reducing the harsh effects of chlorine while vastly improving water quality and feel.
- Ozonization: Applicable to both drinking water supplies and pools, ozonization is the technological process whereby ozone, a natural but more highly activated from of oxygen, is injected into water. The result of ozonization is cleaner, clearer, and more odor free water than is possible by standard purification methods.
- Ultraviolet Light: No, it won't give you an underwater sunburn. In fact, running pool water past an ultraviolet light source is a subtle and relatively inexpensive way to eliminate bacteria and all the other nasty things that turn pool water green and slimy, without the use of chlorine. Systems like those offered by UV Clear can often be obtained for around $500, with an expected lifespan of at least two years.
Know of another eco-friendly pool product or tip for greening your swimming pool? Share it in a comment!