What is Biofilm in a Natural Swimming Pool

When we talk about naturally purified water in a natural swimming pool (NSP), biofilm’s role always comes up as a vital part of the process. What is biofilm in a natural swimming pool exactly? The answer is a bit complex but let’s break it down!

Biofilm is composed of diverse community of microbes working together.

What Biofilm Is Not

Most people may think of biofilm like a sediment layer similar to a bathtub ring. Even confusion about dental biofilm may get lumped in the conversation! Similarly, misconceptions about a slimy, scummy buildup in corners of chemically-treated pools are not representative of biofilm in a natural swimming pool. To set the record straight, let’s consider what each of these examples is composed of compared to biofilm growth in a controlled environment like a BioNova NSP.

-Faucet or bath films are comprised of different minerals in the water supply like calcium, magnesium, and sulfates. Build up like this occurs from “hard water” with high mineral content. Minerals are not living things, so they shouldn’t be considered biofilm.

-The biofilm in our mouths is the accumulation of naturally occurring oral bacteria. Over time, numerous layers build up a fuzzy, sticky film on teeth surfaces if proper brushing isn’t practiced! This bacteria is an entirely separate form of biofilm compared to a natural swimming pool.

-In a traditional, chemically-treated swimming pool, bacteria are growing in response to the available nutrients in the pool that chemicals aren’t destroying. It becomes an unsightly nuisance in this instance because chemical pools want to suppress all microbial life in the water, creating unnatural sterility. Even in these chemically treated environments, undesirable bacteria and algae still exist; this makes hard-to-manage areas of the pool.

What Biofilm Is

Let’s examine the entire picture of biofilm before answering the question ‘what is biofilm in a natural swimming pool’. Generally speaking, a biofilm is a community of microorganisms that stick to each other in layers that adhere to a surface. These cells then form a matrix, or web, outside the cells to give itself structure to build upon. This web is the “film” portion of biofilm referred to as an Extracellular Polymeric Substance or EPS–no quiz on this, we promise!

As this EPS surrounds the growing community, it protects from physical and chemical damage like wind and sun, respectively. Additionally, it can provide long-term storage of nutrients for the microbial community to feed on and grow. This positive feedback loop of nutrient uptake and usage is perfect for keeping a natural swimming pool full of healthy, living water. Because BioNova NSPs use this approach instead of a constant battle with chemical balance, mother nature does all the hard work. The biofilm is encouraged to grow in a regeneration zone for BioSwim Ponds and in the BF4 Biofilm Reactor in BioPools. By outcompeting other undesirable bacteria and algae, the pool stays clean. Both of these areas are away from the swimming zone, which results in beautiful emerald or aquamarine water. NSPs don’t have the “window-cleaner” blue color of sterilized, chemically treated water!

Biofilm in a Natural Swimming Pool is Mother Nature’s Tool

We hope we cleared up any misconceptions about biofilm you had. If you have more questions, leave a comment below or reach out to us directly.

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