Imagine a swimming pool, and what do you see? A slab of sterile blue water, surrounded by tiles. It doesn’t have to be like that: imagine instead a pool of fresh, clear water, fringed by native plants and that is close to nature. Bio Pools or Natural Swimming Pools are a replica of village wells where naturally, the water is fresh.
Bio Pools are designed to establish the elements of a natural system in the swimming pool, where there is no usage of chemicals in treatment. Bio Pools elevates the natural elements of aqua flora and fauna to emulate the ecosystem.
The most commonly used chemical –Chlorine which is used to clean and treat the water regularly in the conventional pool is the most hazardous chemical that affects human health and the environment around. Chlorine used to keep out harmful bacteria from the pool water can also strip your hair and skin of its natural oils. This can cause dry skin, brittle hair.
Apart from the above superficial effects on health, Chlorine affects the Respiratory system, eyes, and gastrointestinal issues upon swallowing or being subjected to chlorine for longer periods.
Children of age group 5 to 14years, who form the significant group of swimming pool users in India, are mostly susceptible to chlorine effects. While it is the responsibility of Pool Managers to keep balanced pool chemistry to reduce the adverse effects of Chlorine, the usage of chemicals is more questionable.
Bio Pools are the natural answer and are definitively the need of the hour.
FHD Group, India’s reputed architect and design firm since 1995, has always been a fundamental believer in sustainability and the inclusion of nature in the living ecosystem. The firm realized the need for bio pools over a conventional swimming pool and have installed a close-to-nature bio pool in India’s first net-zero community initiative–Organo.
The bio pool built at Organo is the collaboration of Bio Pools expert – Rufus (Living Water Systems and Mission Pools), which is 30feet wide and 100 feet long with a depth of 5ft 6 inches ( Maximum depth and is a home for various aqua plants. Across the year, Bio Pool at Organo is a destination of various family events, children and adult retreats and one common response from everyone is that it is refreshing and rejuvenating in a natural way and that’s the single biggest differentiator.
Apart from human events, the bio pool attracts various specter of bird types that visit and exploit aquatic life such as snails, baby frogs, fish and has also been used as a bird bath.
Mr. Mathan, who is a resident of Organo and is also an international architect shares his experience,” As a part of my global travel or during my work at European countries, I have witnessed the magic of bio pools first hand, how rejuvenating is over the normal pools – I always wished that bio pools should be part of India too. Installing bio pools is not just an organically healthy pro, but also a maintenance-friendly.”
Ecological benefits lie around with savings of water, chemicals with pools built using eco-friendly materials.
Water quality is maintained through aquatic plant filters (called Regeneration Zone) and a combination of UV filters, sand filters, and mechanical aeration. These plants in turn act as a habitat for many organisms such as dragonflies, frogs, and insects.
Bacteria is also artificially added onto the rock layers where they colonise and help in breaking down organic matter that might accumulate into the system. These bacteria depend on aerobic decomposition to break down organic matter. That is why mechanical aeration through bubblers is very important. By decomposing organic matter, these bacteria release nutrients which sustain plankton such as Rotifers. These plankton act naturally as algae predators. The plants also help with absorbing these nutrients which further hinder the growth of algae.
Although the bacteria and plants have the ability to absorb organic matter and nutrients, they cannot neutralise pathogens like E-Coli. To do this, the water from the pond is sent through UV filters.
Typically there are three types of plants that are selected:
a. Floating plants to provide shade and protect the micro-organisms from UV rays
b. Oxygenating plants which are typically submerged or free floating which absorb nitrates and phosphates
c. Biological filter plants which absorb nutrients and remove contaminants through their root systems.
In a natural swimming pond, there will always be algae since it is an ecosystem where different organisms are dependent on each other.
Although bacterial colonies and floating & oxygenating plants control the growth of algae to some extent, bacteria must be added annually or whenever required. This can be decided based on the pH level of the water which must be between 5.5 to7.0.
Skimmers and leaf nets must be used to remove dirt and dead leaves at least once in two days and depending on the usage of the pool, the U V filters must also be replaced once every 3 to 4 years.
"Life In an Organic Pond" - By Ashalatha, Naandian
This is a great article written by Naandian, Ashalatha detailing microscopic life in the bio pool at Organo Naandi. The article also has short videos showing plankton and other microorganisms in the pond which are essential to keeping the water free from algae and maintaining the ecosystem in the pond.