The beauty of natural swimming pools

It is believed the first natural swimming pool was built in the 1980’s by DI Werner Gamerith in his private garden in Austria. These were called Schwimmteiche, which translates to swimming ponds, and since then they have only grown in popularity.

How they work

Natural swimming pools are divided into two areas, namely:

• The swimming zone is the area intended for swimming that resembles a conventional swimming pool or pond.
• The regeneration zone consists of a lined overflow pool filled with specific filtration substrate and flora. Plants used for water regeneration can be supplemented with decorative flowering species to create an attractive water garden environment. The biological processes that clean the water take place in this zone.

The swimming zone should be physically separated from the regeneration and should reach a depth of 2 m in swimming ponds. The regeneration zone and swimming zone must be equal in area for sufficient purification. The swimming portion of the pool can look like a conventional swimming pool or a natural pond. The regeneration zone can be placed adjacent to the swimming area or in a remote location depending on the space available. In modern natural swimming pools there is no minimum depth for the swimming zone and the regeneration zone can now be reduced greatly and in some cases is non existent.

In an natural swimming pool water flows via gravity from the swimming pool into distribution shafts. The water then passes through a biological fine filter/bioreactor before it is pumped into the regeneration zone. Plants in the regeneration zone are planted in the substrate, and these plants compete for nutrients that would feed algae. The water is cleaned biologically by the metabolic processes found in the substrate in which the plants are rooted. Thus, microorganisms and the water plants ensure effective, continuous cleaning. No processes beyond these, such as UV sterilization, are found in true European style natural swimming pools.

natural swimming pools

Because of their reliance on natural environmental factors, each natural swimming pool system is built with consideration to the region and climate where it is installed. Construction elements such as the biological filter and the combination of contaminant ridding plants vary with each pool.

Environmental considerations

Typically, a chemically treated pool can discharge up to 3 times its volume of water into the sewer per year. As there is no use of chemicals in the water of natural swimming pools  and their water is maintained as "living,” there is no need for this waste of water being discharged into the sewer. Also, there is considerably reduced energy consumption for the mechanical operation of many natural swimming pool systems.

Additionally, amphibious and aquatic creatures like frogs, salamanders, and snails often make their homes in the regeneration zones of natural swimming pools. While some pool owners might be made uncomfortable by this idea, others find comfort knowing that their swimming pool environment is clean and balanced enough to support life as it is well known that these types of creatures indicate a healthy ecosystem. The equipment used in natural swimming pools takes the possibility of this wildlife into consideration, as skimmers utilize fine sieves that prevent small creatures from being sucked through the filtration process.

Commonly asked questions

How much work is involved?

Very little. Natural swimming pools are designed to be self-cleaning as far as possible. Leaf skimmers need to be emptied regularly and their is the occasional vacuuming of the pool - but that is about it.

Clear Water Revival

What about mosquitoes?

Mosquitoes only grow in low oxygen environments where they have no predators: e.g. in stagnant pools. The water in natural swimming pools  is highly oxygenated. The ecosystem supports a diversity of predators such as dragonfly larvae, water beetles, skimmers, that eat mosquito larvae. 

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