Au naturel: Borden Pool makes a splash without chemicals

As a mother of three, Michelle Henderson wants to make the most of Edmonton’s summers for her children. On a sunny afternoon in June, she and two of her daughters— Hannah and Nadia—checked out Borden Natural Swimming Pool for the first time. It sure made a splash with them.

“I love that it’s naturally cleaned and the daily capacity is capped to keep it that way,” says Michelle, who is also known as @edmontonmama to her 25,000 Instagram followers. 

“I didn’t know this pool existed and it’s right here in the middle of the city. It’s really interesting how the natural filtration system works. It’s like swimming in a lake.”

Nadia with one of Borden’s swim toys. Photo credit: Michelle Henderson.

Borden Natural Swimming Pool opened in 2018 and is Canada’s first public, man-made, natural swimming pool. Located in beautiful Borden Park, the pool is surrounded by sand—beach volleyball anyone?—and plenty of lounge space with umbrellas, making it a perfect destination to enjoy on a summer day.

Since Borden uses living water, staff maintain an environment to ensure that the natural filtration system is cleaning the water as effectively as possible. The water is filtered through layers of granite rock as well as regeneration basins, which are constructed wetlands where plants and naturally occurring microscopic organisms clean the water of contaminants while still keeping nutrients. 

Borden’s filtration system.

Naturally, individuals need to have a head-to-toe soaking shower before entering the pool in order to remove possible contaminants, such as soap or lotion, from their skin. 

As no chemicals are used to disinfect the water, the guidelines for Borden are different from other outdoor pools. Swimwear made from natural fibers, such as cotton or leather, is not allowed because they release dyes which are harmful to the filtration system. 

Sunscreen with phosphates is also not allowed. Using it could upset the balance of the water. Pool patrons need to follow these guidelines and rules in order to make sure everything goes swimmingly for Borden’s filtration system. 

In 2019, Borden won a prestigious architecture award that celebrates the integration of chemical-free technology into a public recreation facility. 

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows Michelle’s daughter, Nadia, at Borden Natural Swimming Pool. Photo credit: Michelle Henderson. 
Follow Michelle Henderson on Instagram: @edmontonmama.