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  • 1.  Natural swimming pools

    Posted 05-13-2019 10:15 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-13-2019 10:15 AM

    One of the experiences that drove me into the field of Environmental Engineering was finding fewer and fewer natural places to swim while growing up. When I came across this article about a public natural swimming pool in Minneapolis, the idea of a more natural swimming pool really resonated with me.


    However, the practical implementation seems to be expensive and not without problems (such as extensive maintenance and multiple closures due to elevated bacteria levels from wild fowl).


    Do you think these system will become more widespread? Have you designed or seen one (apparently, they are more widespread in Europe and Australia). It just seems like such a cool idea...

    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E.,M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA

  • 2.  RE: Natural swimming pools

    Posted 05-14-2019 09:52 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-14-2019 09:52 AM
    I laid out the conceptual design for a natural pool a​ few years ago, although the client chose not to proceed, partly out of fear of the problems reported in Minnesota. Ongoing, reactive maintenance and planting design are critical components of designing a successful natural pool, as well as a willingness to experiment and maybe not achieve 100% success up front. For example, in our area (southeastern Pennsylvania) geese would definitely pose a problem, but might be mitigated by using tall, dense native grasses in the treatment area and around the pool (geese like clear sight lines). Other creative solutions (dogs, fox dens, fountains) might work in the right context or might create even more problems. To avoid bacterial problems, I suggest "overdesigning" the wetland treatment area of the pool.

    In a risk-averse world, my guess is these will remain a niche market, which would be a shame.

    John Zollers EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Philadelphia PA

  • 3.  RE: Natural swimming pools

    Posted 05-14-2019 01:54 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-14-2019 01:54 PM
    Perhaps an awareness of the few places that are natural swimming areas would help.  There are a few in Texas.  Balmorhea State Park Balmorhea State Park
    Texas remove preview
    Balmorhea State Park
    Dive into the crystal-clear water of the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool. Swim, scuba dive, or just relax under the trees at this historic park in arid West Texas. The Civilian Conservation Corps built Balmorhea State Park in the 1930s. Nearly 80 years later, people are still cooling off at our park.
    View this on Texas >

    Maybe a map of these in the US done by crowdsourcing?  Just an Idea...

    Melinda Luna M.ASCE
    Sr Consultant
    Austin TX

  • 4.  RE: Natural swimming pools

    Posted 05-14-2019 03:28 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-14-2019 03:28 PM
    This spring pool looks really nice!

    There is a place near me called Devil's pool that's still widely used despite of high pollution levels and drowning danger, showing how much people want to have these natural places to swim. 

    Welcome | Philadelphia Magazine
    Phillymag remove preview
    Welcome | Philadelphia Magazine
    View this on Phillymag >

    Natalya Sokolovskaya P.E.,M.ASCE
    Wynnewood PA

  • 5.  RE: Natural swimming pools

    Posted 05-14-2019 06:05 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 05-14-2019 06:05 PM
    I have heard of these being successful in cold climates like northern US and northern Europe.  I have only heard of them for private pools where the pollution load would presumably be much smaller.  They were marketed here in Texas a few years back, but I do not believe these recirculating systems are very robust in hot climates.  Texas has many pools made out of springs, but they are flow through and not recirculating.

    Michael Clough P.E.,M.ASCE
    Senior Civil Engineer
    Humble TX
    (832)412-4633 EXT 2243