Glen Mills, Pa., natural, chemical-free pool

Spot Aq 708 Inspired by European Biotop natural pools, this chemicalfree Pennsylvania waterscape comes complete with a wetland filtration system relying on nearly 300 plants to help process impurities and consume excess nutrients.

"The whole concept behind it is to look like an old Chester County bank barn or a spring house that has basically been abandoned and partially fallen down," says Bob Nonemaker, principal at the landscape and design/build firm Outerspaces in Glen Mills, Pa. "And the building itself has become filled with water as the [marsh] has encroached into it."

The system cleans the pool water much like nature does. And its mechanical filter is much like the biofilters sold in pond kits on the market today, says Nonemaker. "It's just a bigger system, and it's a little bit more robust. It's got greater filtering than a typical pond system would."

The gunite pool, which runs 24 hours a day, relies on a couple of UV systems to control algae and harmful organisms and high-efficiency IntelliFlow pumps to reduce energy usage.

"The client has the expectation that there may be a little bit of algae," says Nonemaker. "It won't be green and slimy, but it won't be crystal-clear water like you have in a bright, white swimming pool." A robotic pool cleaner with a sand filter keeps things clean so the health-conscious and chemical-sensitive owner can enjoy her natural oasis.

While the project is costly at nearly $250,000, the owners felt if the idea could work and be clean, they'd rather make the investment than endure any unnecessary chemical exposure.

Nonemaker notes the system was designed in a way that, should anyone want to, the pool can be converted back into a regular swimming pool with the wetland plants as a landscape feature.

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