Biopools as a new trend in Spain: ecological and sustainable swimming

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – In the aftermath of lockdowns during the pandemic and to make their own contribution to combating climate change, more and more people are looking for a connection with nature. Biopools can meet this need. 

Biopools are natural swimming pools that provide an ecological and sustainable way to relax and refresh. A biopool is more like a pond or more than a swimming pool. It is surrounded by wildlife and the water remains pure without the use of chlorine, chemicals or ultraviolet light. These pools are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they are also an example of natural harmony. 

In a country like Spain, which is increasingly confronted with drought and where every 35 inhabitants have access to one swimming pool, biopools can offer a solution. However, biopools are nothing new. In countries like Germany they have been around for many decades. Such as the natural swimming pool Heigenbrücken, which has been operating since 1928. Thanks to the growing interest in landscaping, hotels around the world have also created impressive biopools, such as the Naturhotel Edelweiss Wagrain in Austria and the rural Hotel Scarlet in England. 

“Totally different experience” 

Landscape designers María Barceló and Xoan Pérez of Estudio MIX Paisajismo describe the unique feeling of swimming in such a pool in El País: “It’s a completely different experience than swimming in a conventional pool. You are surrounded by greenery, hear birds and feel the natural balance of the ecosystem around you.” 

Ecological balance as a secret 

The secret behind these pools is ecological balance. Biopools consist of a swimming area and a regeneration area in which the water circulates. Natural filtration takes place in this area, using sand, gravel and plants that function as a biological filter. 

These plants absorb nitrates and add oxygen to the water through their roots, keeping the water clean and healthy. In addition, colonies of bacteria develop in this pure water, which keep the water self-sufficiently clean. 

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Suitable plants for biopools 

There are numerous plant species suitable for use in biopools. However, Enric Sancho, director of Cultidelta, a nursery specialising in native plants, warns against choosing invasive species. He recommends choosing plants that adapt well to local conditions and help purify the water without overloading the ecosystem. 

Disadvantages of biopools 

As with everything, biopools have their advantages and disadvantages. As they are living ecosystems, the water is not crystal clear and algae and, if not managed properly, mosquitoes can appear. However, the benefits are many: ecological and aesthetic harmony, reduced maintenance, no need for harmful chemicals and sustainable use of water. 

André Schäller of the German engineering firm Janisch & Schulz sums it up nicely: “Biopools are healthy and their living, pure water is gentle on the skin. The presence of animals indicates this purity.” 

Responsible use of water 

Despite a higher initial investment, the long-term benefits are undeniable. “The concept of sustainability has many interpretations, but one thing we can all agree on is that we should use water responsibly,” emphasise the designers of Estudio MIX. 

Also read: Half a million swimming pools in Spain threatened by drought 

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