Natural swimming pools wade into West Coast market


What if a dip in the backyard pool felt more like a swim in a clear mountain lake?

That’s the experience New Jersey-based BioNova is seeking to re-create with its natural swimming pools. Instead of chlorine, its “living” pools use plants, beneficial bacteria and microbes to clean the water.

“Basically we take what Mother Nature already does to clean ponds and lakes, and we enhance that and make sure the balance is in favor of healthy water using microorganisms,” says Troy Becker, co-owner of California BioNova in Ojai. As one of two California dealers for BioNova (the other is Questar Pools in Escondido), it is designing and constructing pools from L.A. to the Oregon border.

Becker and his partners just finished helping complete BioNova’s first natural swimming pool in the Western U.S. It’s on the 21/2-acre Ojai residence of L.A. restaurateur Spoon Singh (Venice Ale House, the Larchmont), Amelia Fleetwood (daughter of Mick) and daughter Izzy, 8.


Cable TV network Animal Planet filmed the construction of the pool for its new “The Pool Master” series, which premieres in June with host Anthony Archer-Wills. Archer-Wills, a noted water garden designer, worked with BioNova to design and build the pool.

They created a rectangular swimming area with a shallow Baja shelf for sunning, a lap lane and a diving boulder.

The adjacent “regeneration zone,” where the water is cleaned, is styled to look like a natural spring, stream, pond and waterfall. It contains aquatic plants such as calla lilies, lotus, miniature cattails, water chestnut, water clover and taro, as well as filters, skimmers and layers of granite and sand.

Water is pumped from the pool through underground pipes to the upper pond, where it bubbles up and then flows down through the regeneration zone back into the swimming pool.

Singh said he and his family are very happy with their pool and have enjoyed listening at night to the choruses of frogs that have already moved in. “It feels like a very natural setting … like a spring-fed pool. Yet it’s all totally manmade.”