Natural Swimming Pools in Permaculture

Permaculture Designers Manual



Section 7.6 –

Natural Swimming Pools in Permaculture

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When thou wilt swim in that live bath

Each fish, which every channel hath

Will amorously to thee swim

Gladder to catch thee than thou him…

(John Donne)


Swimming pools have crept across the affluent suburbs so that, from the air, these ponds now resemble a virulent aquamarine rash on the urban fringe.

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The color is artificial, like that blue dye that imitates an ocean wave obediently crashing down the toilet bowls or the overly-fastidious.

Chemicals used to purify the water are biocides and we are biological organisms; if fish can’t live in our pools, we should also keep our bodies out of the water.

When chlorine isn’t being used as a war gas, it is being dumped into our drinking, bathing, and swimming water, where it forms carcinogenic chloroform.

Innovative pool designers now filter natural pools below a base pebble bed, using the pebbles as algal/ bacterial cleaners, then cycle it through a reed-bed to remove excess nutrients before cascading it back, freshly oxygenated, into the pool.

Such pools can be delightful systems with tame fish, crayfish, rock ledges, over arching ferns, and great good health (Figure 7.38).

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They are also reserves for fire-fighting, potential heat sources for heat pumps, barriers to fire, and emergency water supplies rechargeable from the roof and can be recycled by photovoltaic pumps.

Goodbye to the endless servicing and perhaps hello to an occasional lobster or overgrown trout!

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