Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions...
Are the plants in the pool?
Not regularly. Generally the ecosystem is separate from the swimming zone inside the pool. The ecosystem ‘can’ be included with the swimming zone but is regularly segregated by means of a dividing wall within the pool ‘shell’. Often, an ecological zone will be built as an aquatic garden alongside a pool and sometimes, may even be situated in a completely unrelated part of the site area. Please refer to the gallery for examples or find here
How is an Eco Pool different from a conventional pool?
Conventional pools use manmade chemicals, salt, or bromine for chlorine production, ionizers, added oxygen, electrostatic radiation and various light emitting sources to limit the growth of unwanted algae and bacteria within the water. The problem with chemical/sterile pools is that nutrients tend to build up over time, creating perfect conditions for algae and bacteria to bloom. To combat that, a regular supply of chemicals is required. The maintenance of a natural swimming pool is much less, as nutrient matter in the water is effectively ‘eaten’ by helpful bacteria and planted filter systems leaving the water healthy, alive and as clear as crystal.
How much work is involved?
Very little. EcoPools are designed to self-maintain as much as is possible, but will require a pruning or thinning out of the plant material occasionally. Leaf skimmers need to be emptied regularly and vacuuming of the swimming pool is required to keep them in tip-top condition. The pump system is continuous and draws surface matter from the pool more effectively, thus less is able to settle to the bottom.
How much space do I need?
The size of the filtration system varies according to conditions on the property. A rule of thumb for the best water management is equal surface area between swimming area and planted zone for completely plant based, ecological systems. Surface requirements can be dramatically reduced when shifting from ecological to ‘biological’ filtration systems, where a planted filter is aided or replaced by a contained filter using microorganisms. Filtration depends very much on the site environmental conditions and client requirements. Generally, the bigger the ecosystem, the more balanced the water will be and less subject to change in composition.
What about mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes only grow in low oxygen environments where they have no predators: e.g. in stagnant pools. Natural swimming pool water is highly oxygenated. The ecosystems support a diversity of predators such as dragonfly larvae, water beetles, pond skimmers and carnivorous plants that eat mosquito larvae. Therefore mosquito larvae is hunted out and mosquitoes themselves, non-existent.
Are Eco Pools more energy efficient?
Yes, significantly smaller pumps are utilised because there is no pressurized requirement to filter a natural swimming pool. Wind/solar generators are an optional extra with some of our designs. EcoPools use less than 60% of the electricity than any other system available.
Can I keep fish in the system?
No. Fish are predators and eat all the small insects and other invertebrates which feed directly on waste material in the pool.
Even worse. Ducks tend to carry a large quantity of nutrients into the system. Some of our pools play host to Egyptian geese and migrating wild ducks and we haven’t experienced too many problems, but if it can be avoided, domestic ducks should be kept out.
Do Eco Pools use less water?
The plants in Natural pools transpire water, which adds to the evaporation of water from the pool, especially in sunny, windy weather. However, there is far less backwashing required and due to the gentle chemistry of the water, there is no erosion of pipes, fittings or pool shells and therefore less likelihood of leaks occurring. Even slow leaks tend to seal themselves over time due to minerals in the water.
How does the system handle suntan lotion?
Products which have natural or organic origins are of course preferable, but the ecosystem can generally metabolize a usual amount of sunblock.
Can Eco Pools be heated?
Eco Pools are generally warmer than conventional pools because the plants and filter material in the ecosystem act as a passive solar heater. If higher temperatures are required, a heating system can be installed but will require a plan for hardier plants that can tolerate the temperature differences.
Public / school swimming pools?
Eco Pools are very well suited to use for the open public. A large design allows for faster nutrient dilution but access must be managed to avoid over-population and balance of the water chemistry. It is often the case that a UV filter system is installed as a safety measure to combat periods of maximum use. A percentage of the water will be UV sterilized making it easier for the natural system to retain a balance again. We have installed public pools in both Africa and South America.
Why do I keep hearing about Algae?
Algae are an integral part of all healthy living aquatic ecosystems. There are hundreds of different species and they all play a role in the complex web of life. All healthy aquatic ecosystems have algae in some form or another and some species can be very beautiful. All marine plants are multicellular forms of algae (kelp for example).
Controlling water chemistry and the balance of nutrients through precise biological engineering has a direct relationship with the species composition of the algae in the ecosystem. With the correct planting and biological design, species composition can be shifted toward species that are less vigorous and more appealing to the eye, but they are always there.