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Swimming au naturel

Swimming au naturel
The swimming area of a natural swimming pool is like any other. In this case, swimmers enter the pool from a typical wooden deck at an elevated level. Water pours out of this swimming area into surrounding reed and water-plant filtering beds.
In a sunny climate a home swimming pool is often a must for family homes, especially if the nearest beach or holiday resort is some distance away. For most home owners this means an expensive pool with an energy-demanding filtration system, regular sweeping, constant attention to the pH balance and the addition of some pretty fierce chemicals. Then, of course, when drought strikes there is the problem of keeping the pool full enough to stay useable and in chemical balance.

The standard model of a suitable and safe home swimming pool is that of a sparking blue, tropical island look-alike, but is this really necessary in view of the energy requirements and chemical dosing needed to achieve this? How many times have pool owners not stood on the banks of a sparkling mountain stream or perhaps enjoyed a dip in a natural pool in such a stream, without finding any filters or chemicals and wondered, why can't I have the same?

More and more, as home owners become increasingly energy conscious and concerned about the environment, these questions are being asked. Innovative experiments are in progress all over the world to rather harness natural processes in pool management than to fight nature with filters and chemicals. Natural pools, modelling the processes found along mountain streams are becoming increasingly popular all over the world and they do work.

When professional engineer Tim Jones in Port Elizabeth purchased an old house for renovation as his family home, a swimming pool was one of the additions needed. But after consulting literature on the subject and checking the internet, he decided to go green in constructing his family pool. Not green with algae, but with a low energy, natural water balance and zero chemical pool that his family could enjoy in total safety. His self-constructed prototype has now gone into action and within a month has established a natural balance requiring virtually no attention, and is as delightful to plunge into as any mountain pool.
The secret of a natural pool is to harness the same simple, natural processes that happen in a mountain stream, namely rain water (in his case off the roof of his home), and a flow of water (like a mountain stream) through beds of indigenous water plants. These filtering water lily, reed and water weed beds even have an abundance of small fish, tadpoles and other aquatic life. This adds to the attractiveness of the garden as it forms a large water-feature. The water flow though his copy of a natural mountain stream is so easily maintained by a small volume pump that it could even be solar powered. (In the prototype pool the pump is still driven by mains power so, that he can experiment to determine the optimum water flow.)

Jumping into this natural pool is just like jumping into a mountain stream. The water is not an artificial, sparkling blue and the sides of the pool have deliberately been painted black, but is that delightful clear green-blue of a natural swimming hole. There are even tadpoles which have naturally taken up residence in the swimming area. Naturally filtered water is fed into the swimming section constantly through the bottom of the pool. It then flows naturally off the surface, over a small water fall into surrounding reed and water plant beds. Here totally natural filtration takes place before it reaches the pump to be circulated once again.

Home owners interested in this experiment and perhaps building their own natural pool, can consult Tim's blog on or else check Google on the internet for "Skyhooks and other projects".

Water from the central swimming section of this natural pool passes through these indigenous water lily and water weed beds which surround it to be naturally cleaned and filtered. Filtered water is returned to the swimming section by a small capacity pump which maintains the flow.

Water from the swimming area of this natural pool falls over a small waterfall into the first filtering bed containing large water plants and even fish.
07:56 (GMT+2), Thu, 17 March 2011
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