Many phrases associated with the green movement start out sounding odd but soon become familiar, everyday language. Remember the “hybrid car”? Sounds perfectly normal now, but it didn’t in 2001, when the Prius was first introduced in the United States.
One such green idea today is the “natural swimming pool.” Just that as the hybrid car is beginning to shift from a curiosity for early adopters to a standard for the middle class, the natural swimming pool may begin to move beyond a few upscale enclaves to urban and suburban backyards across America.
In addition being a beautiful oasis for the mind and body, the natural pool is well named, because it uses many processes already found in nature to save energy and refresh itself. Like a traditional pool, the natural pool is separated from the ground by manmade materials such as rubber or reinforced polyethylene. But unlike a traditional pool, the water cleaning process uses a regeneration zone of aquatic plants and stones instead of harsh chemicals like chlorine.
Of course, no one wants a green pool in a literal sense, so natural pools use plants and ultraviolet sterilizers to rob algae of nutrients, leaving waters as clean as those of a traditional swimming pool. The chemical-free water and regeneration zone allow customers to have both a pool and a pond that functions as an aquatic garden.
Currently, the only purveyor of natural pools in the US is Total Habitat of Kansas. They admit that natural swimming pools may cost slightly more to build than a standard swimming pool, but that have lower maintance and chemical costs. Also, conventional pools can be converted to natural pools; a post on naturalswimmingpools.info encourages the possibility of a DIY natural pool.
Like many eco-friendly ideas, the natural pool comes to us from Europe (”across the pond,” of course!) where it is more popular. Although the idea was born in Europe, natural pools can be coupled with the concept of New Urbanism, a back-to-basics planning idea emerging here in the US. Many new suburban developments branding themselves as New Urban use swimming holes and ponds in addition to traditional design elements like porches and alleyways to create the feeling of an older urban neighborhood. The idea is to become more transit and pedestrian oriented, eating up fewer rural acres in the process.
The bottom line: any dual-purpose solution like the natural swimming pool that works as both a beautiful pond and a healthy place for swimming gets my vote.
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