Quick, name a city in North America with a natural public swimming pool.
You can’t, because there aren’t any — until now.
On Thursday, from 4-6:30 p.m., the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will host a second open house for the just-opened Webber Park Natural Swimming Pool in north Minneapolis, giving the public another chance to tour the $6 million chemical-free pool, which took the city 10 years to build.
In a statement, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller said that she’s excited that the project has been finalized and that the public is about to experience its final product.
“It’s innovative,” she noted. “It’s part of what keeps our Park system the number one park system in the United States. It’s better for the environment and for users.”
That’s because it’s a chlorine-free pool and uses filters and plants that act as organic cleaners, according to the park board, not unlike a stream, lake or wetland.
Located at 4300 Webber Parkway, the pool features four sections: a nearly four-foot deep upper pool, 6-foot deep lower pool, a jumping platform and a lap pool, which serves as a training space for amateur swimmers.
All together, the pool holds 500,000 gallons of water, recycled every 12 hours. During the recycling process, the water streams through biological filters into a nearby regeneration basin. The basin contains about 7,000 aquatic plants rooted in layers of limestone and granite to keep the pool clean. In addition to the filters and plants, the pool is vacuumed daily.
Then fresh water is pumped back into the pool, which can hold a capacity of 500 swimmers and is open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Natural swimming pools aren’t common in the United States. Austria opened the first of such pools in the 1980s — and it was private. In 1998, Germany opened the first public natural pool.
Today, Europe has 20,000 public and private natural swimming pools, according to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. In recent years, however, natural pools have become increasingly attractive to people the U.S. and Canada, as they begin to realize the importance of the system that eliminates the need for chlorine and other chemicals.
In north Minneapolis, residents are already appreciating having the pool in their neighborhood, said Cindy Aegerter, who on Tuesday watched her two nieces play on swings at the park.
“They visited me from Las Vegas,” she said of the young girls. “It’s nice to be able to bring them here and to have a nice place to cool off and enjoy.”
Aegerter added that she and her family enjoyed the park and the pool on Saturday. “We had a good time,” she said. “The water was refreshing and you can sit in the shade under the trees when you’re outside of the water.”
Deangelo Washington, 18-year-old who biked to the park on Tuesday, said he’s pleased to see the pool in his community.
“It brings a lot of people together … and unites us as one,” he added. “Webber is the best part of north Minneapolis.”
Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @IHirsi.