By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — North Minneapolis will soon be home to a new kind of pool.

It’s one of the first public, natural filtration swimming ponds in North America.

At Webber Park, they’ll use plant and natural microbes to clarify and purify the water, instead of chemicals for sterilization and disinfection.

“It won’t necessarily look like a pool,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Jon Olson, who first envisioned the project. “It will look more like a lake.”

This new pool will be a balanced ecosystem where plants, microorganisms and introduced nutrients are used to create true, living water.

The filtration starts when water flows by gravity out of the swimming zone.

“There’s over two-and-a-half miles of pipe underground that actually will take all the water from the pool and bring it down here to the regeneration basin which is where all the cleaning of the water occurs,” said project manager Jon Duesman.

The pool’s water flows over 36 different species of plants that provide biological cleaning of the water. By the time it gets to the far side of the regeneration zone, the water is clean and pumped back into the pool.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board had to get special permission from the legislature to take on this pilot project.

“There is legislation that requires pools, man-made pools to be controlled through chemicals, and so we had to get state law to change to do this,” said Park Board Superintendent Jayne Miller.

The 500,000 gallon pool will look natural, consisting of a zero-depth entrance, wading and lap pools and a 13-foot-deep area for diving.

There is also a pool house with a fireplace, and it will turn into an ice skating and hockey pond in winter.

It will be free to swim in the natural pool. It cost close to $6 million to create and will open sometime next summer.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials say the project is part of its goal to bring equity and access for everyone across the city.

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