Here’s How to Swim in Minneapolis’ New Chemical-Free Public Pool
At the end of next month, the City of Minneapolis plans to open a public pool in Webber Park, which will not use any chemical additives. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the country, and best of all, it costs nothing to get in.
It’s been quite the challenge to build a pool that’s a first of its kind in North America: the first public “natural” swimming pool. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board had to find creative solutions to bring this innovative public works project to fruition. It took some time, but experts are saying it was worth the wait.
A natural swimming pool is a pool that is not treated with chemicals that are typically used to treat and maintain pools. They operate on a live ecosystem to maintain, treat, and clean the water.
Such pools are very common in Europe, but in North America, one has never been built on the scale of the pool in Webber Park. Here, they are usually built for smaller, private residential use.
After a two year build out, the Park Board has announced the the pool in Webber park in North Minny will open on July 24th. At a cost of $6 million, the pool will open once a water quality inspection has been approved.
The Webber park pool (4300 Webber Pkwy. N., Mpls.; 612-230-6400) is substantial in terms of size: 21, 000 square feet, with a neighboring 16,250 square foot pond consisting of over 7,000 aquatic plants and various bacteria that serve to purify the water.
Jayne Miller, the Park Board Superintendent said, “Any time you’re doing something new, there are hurdles you can’t even anticipate… we’re figuring it out as we go along.” She has made it clear that the project was not without its challenges, but that the hard work that went into the planning and construction was worth it, both for the benefits for the environment, and for the people in the community.
The pool employs cleaning techniques that were at one time very common in many towns throughout Minnesota. In spite of the precedent, the Park board still had to win approval from the state legislature to begin construction. Some elements of the build, such as laying the 2.5 miles of piping, pool house and wetland have been done before. However, assembling all the elements was a new challenge, according to Cliff Swensen, the project manager.
How it works
The engineering of the pool is groundbreaking. The excess water flows into filter tanks that remove the largest debris elements. At that point, the water then flows into the natural wetland, which is known as the “Regeneration Basin.” It’s there that the ecosystem does its job – the plants, which are rooted in two types of rock, and the natural PH balance, allow for the bacteria to generate and devour the polluted materials in the water. The plans are native to Minnesota, and can be found in various wetlands throughout the state. They do not need soil; instead, they get their nutrients from the water itself.
So if you’re sensitive to chemicals, and have been waiting for an opportunity to beat the heat this summer, your wait is almost over. On July 24th, The Webber Park Pool opens to the public. It promises to be one of the go-to destinations in Minneapolis this summer, and a beacon for eco-friendly parks throughout North America.