Balancing Act

Children can enjoy playing in natural water – and their parents need have no anxieties about chemicals.

At a time when people are increasingly concerned about their health, anxious to avoid exposure to chemicals, keen to help preserve wildlife and the environment, and inspired by more holistic ways of living a natural swimming pool offers the perfect fit.

As well as offering a new and inspirational experience, the natural system has practical and financial benefits for pool operators. Build costs for a natural pool are comparable to those of a conventional pool, and the conversion of an existing pool is also possible. Maintenance costs are far lower, as a natural pool’s biological cleaning processes does away with the need for chemicals, frequent water changes and much of the work of maintenance.

There are huge savings on water, as natural pools do not need to be emptied every year. Energy costs are much lower, as the natural system is not compatible with conventional pool heating. It relies instead on the heat of the sun and the circulation of the water from the shallower regeneration zone to raise the water temperature. Because natural pools are aquatic gardens as well as places to swim, they can be developed as all-year-round leisure facilities, offering guests a place to walk, relax, socialise and enjoy nature even when the British weather does not encourage outdoor swimming.

Natural pools are also of huge benefit to the environment; in addition to not using chemicals and saving on water, they are valuable wildlife habitats, offering a haven for a whole range of species threatened by the loss of wetland habitats in the countryside. People and frogs do not swim side by side, however; wild creatures stay mostly in the regeneration zone, which provides them with both food and shelter.

Natural swimming pools were originally developed in Austria, where the health and wellness benefits of bathing in natural waters in the country’s spa towns were widely recognised. In 1985, the first commercial models were created by the Austrian company Biotop, whose founder Peter Petrich came up with the idea of a self-cleaning biosystem for swimming pools. Other manufacturers, including Bioteich of Switzerland and BioNova of Germany, soon followed.

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