How Chemical-Free Pools Are Closer to Becoming a Reality Than You Thought

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Anyone who owns a pool is well-accustomed to the sheer amount of chemicals that must be poured into its water each year: chlorine, algaecides, oxidizers, clarifiers and water balancers are just a few of the many products required to keep a pool’s delicate chemistry stable.

But in Minneapolis, the unexpected has become a reality: the first chemical-free public pool in North America.

According to a July 10 Finance and Commerce article, the $6 million pool, which relies on a living ecosystem to keep its water clean, is set to open at Webber Park in North Minneapolis on July 24, pending a final water quality inspection.

For the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the pool’s construction has been a challenge since breaking ground in 2013 — but officials say the 21,000-square-foot pool will be worth the wait.

“Any time you’re doing something new, there are hurdles you can’t even anticipate,” Park Board Supt. Jayne Miller said. “We’re figuring it out as we go along.”

Miller explained that the natural pool carries benefits for both the environment and the humans who use it. Adjacent to the pool is a 16,250-square-foot pond, called a “regeneration basin,” where more than 7,000 aquatic plants and bacteria maintain the pool’s pH levels, eat bad bacteria and clean the water. All the plants are native to Minnesota.

In addition to the many chemicals they pour into their swimming pools each year, pool owners must also keep their water filtered. It’s recommended for the average residential pool’s water to be turned over once every 24 hours — which, over the course of a summer, can consume a huge amount of energy. In the new natural pool, water will be turned over every 12 hours through more energy-efficient processes.

Best of all? In the winter, officials plan to turn the pool into a skating pond, complete with a pool house with a fireplace and heated bathrooms. Minneapolis residents will truly be able to use this pool all year long.

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