Q. I’ve heard that it’s possible to build a swimming pool that doesn’t require any chlorine, but I’m not sure where to go for help getting started. My wife and I just had our second daughter, and don’t want the girls getting weird skin conditions from swimming in tons of chlorine all summer. How do we find a builder that does natural pools? – Mark, FL
A. Way to swim on the cutting edge of sustainability, Mark. Natural pools blend right into the landscape, and are designed to eliminate the need to empty and refill, so you’ll save tons of water and a major eye sore. (Huge, garish, bright turquoise Miami-esque pools are so 90’s.) But you’re absolutely right that chlorine is the main reason to go au natural, and you’re absolutely right to be concerned about your daughters’ health. Spending summers steeping in chlorine is not ideal, to say the least, and it’s not just weird skin conditions that can crop up. Studies show that the not-nice chemical raises swimmers’ risk of developing asthma.
Natural pools, on the other hand—mini-ecosystems unto themselves, complete with aquatic plants that naturally purify the water and keep algae in check—don’t require a drop of chlorine. So check out Michael Littlewood’s book Natural Swimming Pools: A Guide for Building, and get ready to breathe easy. Littlewood walks his reader through planning, building, plumbing, planting, care and maintenance, and suppliers, so you’ll have all your questions neatly answered in a single volume. Keep it in the pool house for reference whenever maintenance issues crop up, or on the living room coffee table, so you drool over the gorgeous pictures while the pool’s still a work in progress. Just think: this time next year you could be dodging lily pads on a luxury (PVC-free) pool lounger.
Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in September 2008.