Heroes

This public pool is completely chlorine-free. It's also the first of its kind in the U.S.

Yep, the water's green. That's exactly what makes it so awesome.

This public pool is completely chlorine-free. It's also the first of its kind in the U.S.

For a long time, there were only two ways to access a "naturally filtered" pool: live in Europe or open up your wallet.

A gorgeous natural swimming pool in Austria. Photo by Peter Thomas/Flickr.


Natural pools are miraculous, gorgeous creations that use plant life, rocks, and other biological filters to eliminate the need for cleansing chemicals.

They're clean, they're safe, and they're absolutely beautiful.

These natural pools have been big in Europe for a couple of decades now, with the first ones popping up in Austria and Germany in the 1980s. In the years since, they've seen a rapid increase in numbers. Today there are over 20,000 natural pools in Europe, including plenty open to the general public.

A naturally filtered pool at a hotel in the U.K. Photo by Matt Taylor/Flickr.

For those of us in the States, however, natural pools are much harder to come by.

Having any kind of pool built from scratch in your own backyard comes with a hefty price tag, and not a lot of homes in America come with a pre-built private, natural pool.

When it comes to public pools, there are lots of strict state-mandated regulations around the use of chemicals for bacteria, so natural pools just haven't been an option for most communities.

A private natural pool built for a homeowner in Maryland. Jealous? Photo by Maryland Pools/Flickr.

That's why most of us have been stuck wading in pale blue, chlorinated waters for as long as we can remember.

But that all changed recently — if you live in Minneapolis.

This summer, Minneapolis opened the first all-natural, chlorine-free public swimming pool in the U.S.

It's called the Webber natural pool, and the project has taken over four years and $6 million of funding, not to mention the numerous legal hurdles and construction delays. But it has finally come to fruition.


This is no dinky pond. Check out all the features the pool supports with natural filtration. All photos of Webber pool courtesy of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

The pool opened in late July.

The swimming pool is on the left. That huge area on the right is filled with biological filters, plants, and gravel.

The Webber pool features a shallow end and a deep end — like any good pool — and it also features an even deeper jumping platform and lap swimming lanes. It holds over 500,000 gallons of water.

Every 12 hours, the entire half-million gallon pool slowly drains in and out of what's called a "regeneration basin" filled with over 7,000 different aquatic plants rooted in gravel and limestone. The plants consume some of the bacteria and nutrients — the ones you wouldn't want getting in your eyes — for growth, while the rest clings to the gravel.

Simple vacuums finish the job by keeping the actual pool surface clean, no chemicals required.


It's not just the cleaning mechanisms that make this natural pool so appealing. In a lot of ways, the Webber pool is more like a lake than a pool, with live turtles and frogs populating the water, along with some algae to keep the ecosystem strong. The pool is also surrounded by as much grass and greenery as possible.

All in the name of a truly natural experience.

The Webber pool is a great start, but we need more like it.

There are about 4,000-5,000 emergency room visits related to pool chemicals every year, with most of those being children and teens. There are also environmental concerns around the use and disposal of harsh pool chemicals.

"We have a responsibility to be good stewards of public land and public water. It's consistent with our mission," Jayne Miller, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board told Upworthy. Just a hunch, but maybe that attitude is why Minneapolis Parks and Rec has been rated the #1 parks system in the U.S. for the past three years by The Trust for Public Land.

"We have a responsibility to be good stewards of public land and public water. It's consistent with our mission."

As for why other communities haven't yet followed suit?

Miller said, "You do something new and innovative like this, there are risks. ... But we're getting a ton of coverage on this nationally, and a lot of people are paying attention. I suspect this will be the beginning of many more natural pools in the U.S."

With Minneapolis paving the way, hopefully we'll see more natural public pools springing up in the years to come.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


There are very few people who have had quite as memorable a life as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His adult life has played out in four acts, with each one arguably more consequential than the last.

And now Schwarzenegger wants to play a role in helping America, his adopted home, ensure that our 2020 election is safe, secure and available to everyone willing and able to vote.

Shortly after immigrating to America, Schwarzenegger rose up to become the most famous bodybuilder in history, turning what was largely a sideshow attraction into a legitimate sport. He then pivoted to an acting career, becoming Hollywood's highest paid star in a run that spanned three decades.


Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less