Why We Do It
Water. The most important and most basic necessity of life on earth. The planet Earth is defined by it. Early civilizations anchored their developing cities near it. Nature thrives in it, and our bodies depend on it. It regulates our temperature, carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells, cushions our joints, protects our organs and tissues, and removes our waste. Without water to replenish and hydrate our bodies, we would survive less than a week. There is the same amount of water on the planet now that was on the planet when the earth was formed. And while 97% of the water on earth is saltwater, 2% is locked up in the ice caps and glaciers, only 1% of the water on the planet is available for our agricultural, manufacturing, and personal needs. A scarce resource, becoming even more scarce as we all compete for this remaining 1%.
Historically, the industry standard for operating and maintaining swimming pools involved exterminating the microbiota – microscopic living organisms - of the water. This approach relies on the repeated addition of chemicals to the pool system in order to prevent growth of all bacteria, algae, and the like. Efforts to achieve a sterilized swimming pool via this method involve repeated application and testing of sanitizing agents and water balance parameters but often require that the operator chase after moving and unstable targets. Achieving “purified water” via this method incorporates very little “natural methods” and the resulting problems are predictable. Aside from the constant exposure of our bodies to these biocides while swimming in the water, the indiscriminate killing or suppression of all microbial life in the water creates an unnatural environment. However, even in these unnatural, chemically treated, environments, opportunistic and less desirable bacteria and algae still exist in the water. The water is NEVER totally sterilized. The population of these microbes is simply suppressed by the maintenance levels of bactericide and algaecide from the chemicals. Nonetheless, this historical approach to swimming pools has operators focusing on the prevention or suppression of all microbial growth within the system, a fool’s errand that repeatedly results in frustration with cloudy water and algae growth.
By removing the Biocenosis (the assemblage of numerous beneficial bacteria, fungi, and algae living in symbiosis) through chemical treatment, we remove the organisms that would otherwise outcompete the undesirable “opportunistic” microbes. It is for this reason that a chemically maintained swimming pool requires constant and measured treatment to keep it clean and clear. Such a maintenance approach is fraught with vulnerabilities: a missed shock treatment, drifting pH, a high bather load, or two inches of rain can overwhelm a marginally maintained, vulnerable, chemically treated pool system.
The daily/weekly tedium of testing chemical parameters is a requirement of chemically treated, unnatural swimming pools simply because the chemical warfare being waged to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria is a constant battle. Not only are the algae, bacteria, and fungi constantly being deposited in the water, but nutrients to support their growth from swimmers, rain, wind, trees, dirt, dogs, birds (and the list goes on), are also regularly entering the water. In a Natural Swimming Pool (NSP), such unavoidable and predictable nutrient deposits are a vital part of complex system that naturally cleans the water. In an “unnatural” swimming pool, they are viewed as “contaminants” “swimmer waste” or, simply, something that needs to be chemically removed, killed, or oxidized to stop the natural growth. It is an ongoing and constant battle… but there is an easier, more natural approach.
Naturally purified water is not something we manufacture. Naturally purified water occurs… Naturally. When provided with the right environment to nurture the growth of a naturally occurring Biocenosis a wonderful thing occurs… microbial harmony. Producers like plants, algae, and phytoplankton create energy for their own metabolic needs, as well as food and oxygen for others, as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Consumers consume the gases and metabolic byproducts created by the Producers and in the process begin the breakdown of nitrogen. Reducers like bacteria and fungi, feed on the remaining organic by-products, and this host of beneficial microorganisms multiply… Naturally. These ecosystems do not occur magically, and they do have some basic requirements. If provided with a surface on which to grow, this Biocenosis will form a BioFilm. Biofilm is the result of free-floating microbes finding a spot to call home in the Biological filter of the NSP. One of the key components of biofilm is the film itself. The film, called a Extracellular Polymeric Substance (EPS), encapsulates the Biocenosis, providing protection from the elements and a means for the colony to anchor to a suitable surface. Soon this biofilm is home to numerous species of bacteria and fungi, each with a specific function and metabolic purpose. In a natural swimming pool, a symphony emerges out of this microbial cycle.
The symbiotic harmony of the biocenosis that makes up the biofilm can be further encouraged to form by understanding and applying natural limnological principles to favor the development and growth of biofilm.
Biofilm forms on surfaces. The more surface area the better. Biofilm thrives best on surface substrates that are of proper size, texture, and mineral composition in order to promote the most favorable environment. With a desirable place to form, the remaining requirement is nourishment for the biofilm, and that comes from the swimming vessel. The flow of the water from the swimming area into the biological filter area provides an “aquatic buffet” of nutrients feeding the biofilm biocenosis growing in the substrate, and the water is cleansed as the nutrients are removed. Through constant and properly maintained water flow this natural system will provide “Gin Clear” water… but NOT sterilized water.
As with any swimming pool, safety should always be a consideration. Although BioNova® NSPs are always built to the applicable swimming pool standards, it's important that swimmers exercise caution when diving or jumping into the pool. Diving should never be permitted unless there is an approved diving platform provided. Even then, shallow diving techniques should always be used. Additionally, running and/or horseplay in or around the pool cannot be allowed. Parents should always supervise their children.
NSPs are not sterilized or disinfected bodies of water and in this sense they are more similar to swimming in ponds, lakes, or rivers. When swimming in NSPs and other bodies of water, avoid swallowing the water. Do not swim, or let children swim, if sick with diarrhea within the last two weeks. Do not swim if you have an open wound. People with weakened immune systems may be at higher risk for developing severe illness from swimming related pathogens. If you are unsure about whether your health status might be harmed by swimming in an NSP, consult with your doctor.
Since we do not use any pool chemicals in an NSP, the many injuries that can arise from exposure to pool chemicals should not occur.
Natural Swimming Pools provide a current pool owner or new pool shopper with a new choice for water treatment. Based on a recent survey of NSP prospective pool owners, it is likely that an entirely new segment of swimming pool owners will evolve based on the ability to choose a natural, environmentally sustainable, NON-chemical method for water treatment. These potential swimming pool owners are driven to seek options more in sync with their personal goals and lifestyle choices that support more “Green Living,” “natural,” “organic,” or “environmentally responsible” choices.
A naturally purified recreational water environment, is now available, and BioNova® is prepared to help dealers, pool owners, and prospective pool owners determine the best way to adapt this methodology for water treatment to their current or future swimming pool experience.
BioNova® Leads the Way
BioNova®'s history in North America began in 2007, when James and Hae-Sun Robyn pioneered bringing the BioNova® systems from Germany. Since then, BioNova® has been the First in every category of marketing, installation, technological innovation, maintenance, training, product provision, Dealer support, and education for NSPs in North America.
- BioNova® is the largest/oldest Natural Swimming Pool (NSP) systems provider in North America.
- BioNova® has completed more NSP installations in North America than all other systems providers combined.
- BioNova® is wholly American owned and operated.
Other significant Firsts include:
- BioNova® is the leading systems provider in North America and the first to have successful NSP installations in climates from California to Connecticut and from Toronto to Texas.
- BioNova® is the first systems provider to build an NSP in the USA and Canada.
- BioNova® expertise was used for the design and installation of the first Public NSP in North America at Webber Park in Minneapolis, MN.
- BioNova® is the first to have Dealers in North America (since 2007) and continues to have more Dealers than all other systems providers.
- BioNova® is the only NSP systems provider to have a complete support staff based in North America.
- BioNova® is the only NSP systems provider to have a complete warehouse and distribution facility in North America.
- BioNova® Dealers were the first to receive training in North America and have attended regular training courses in English every year since 2008.
- BioNova® is the only swimming pool company in the US to exhibit at the US Green Building Council Greenbuild Expo.
- BioNova® has lectured at more venues in North America than all other NSP firms combined - see our What We've Been Doing page to see how we continue to lead the way.