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Natural Swimming Pools:
A Safe and Healthy Alternative
by Ellen Rowland

natural swimming pools
Photo Guy Bohyn

Swimming is a refreshing way to beat the summer heat and an excellent form of exercise for the whole family. Gentle water aerobics help build muscle tone, relieve stress, strengthen the heart and lungs, and reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis. But chlorine, the chemical used to treat and prevent bacteria formation in most pools, can have negative effects on the environment as well as our health.

The most environmentally sensitive and energy-efficient solution is the natural swimming pool, also referred to as a swimming pond, green pool, or organic pool. The principles of a natural pool are, in fact, the very same time-tested ones that Mother Nature uses to purify ponds, streams, and lakes. The water from the pool is circulated through an ecosystem of aquatic plants located in an adjacent basin referred to as the regeneration or plant zone. The plants are embedded in gravel and grow hydroponically, enriching the pool with oxygen. As water from the swimming area is pumped through the plant zone, the roots act as a biological filter, creating aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and other micro-organisms that help clean the water.

Although natural pools have been enjoyed for decades in Europe, having pioneered in Austria and Germany, they are just now making their way to other countries as a result of a growing number of builders and home owners who want to focus on creating a healthy, natural environment without the use of harmful chemicals or high-tech, energy-consuming equipment. This article details the advantages and construction of a natural swimming pool.

Click here to read the article as it appeared as the cover story in the July/August 2012 issue of Natural Life Magazine. You'll find more information about natural swimming pools, helpful resources, and some wonderfully inspiring photographs.

Ellen Rowland is an American living in Senegal, W. Africa in an off-the-grid earth house she helped build with her husband and two young children. She is a writer of sustainable issues, fiction, humor, and poetry and is currently working on a book about her experiences in sustainable family living. A lover of all things edible and a passionate cook, she is also working with several women in her village to produce a cookbook of local flavors and culinary customs. You can read more about her family's adventures on her blog.

 

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