The only problem with living on a beautiful island is the not-so-beautiful hurricanes that inevitably come with it. Not to mention the high cost of living, being far from the family, etc, etc.
Wouldn't it be grand to just go in your own backyard and swim with fishies? I love my neighborhood and my friends, so moving wasn't really a consideration. Once in a while I toyed with the idea of somehow adding fish and plants to our swimming pool. In late May 2013, after Dylan's 16th birthday party by our lovely pool, which beforehand took several weeks of adding chemicals and vacuuming to turn from pea soup to sparkling blue (dead) water, I revisited the idea. This time I performed a Google search to see if it were even possible, not to mention affordable.
The first link I clicked on was the Ku-ring-gai Council's Pool to Pond webpage. This local government outside of Sydney, Australia has been "assisting local residents to convert their unwanted swimming pools into ponds since 2007 by supplying native fish, aquatic plants and technical advice for the conversion." I dashed off an email to them to ask for advice in converting our 20,000 gallon swimming pool into a swimming pond.
According to their website, the benefits are:
- A converted swimming pool is essentially a rainwater tank without a lid
- Switching off the pool pump and filter can easily save you up to $1,000 annually on your electricity bills
- The conversion is reversible
- A pond enhances household sustainability by reducing toxic chemical use while providing a source of water for garden irrigation
- Water quality is well within government-mandated recreational standards
- Mosquitoes are not a problem
- Maintaining a pond is not expensive or time-consuming
- You can promote biodiversity in your own backyard
Those points sounded like an excellent argument for conversion to me! But, has anyone in the US done it successfully? Does it take a long time for the pond to naturally sort itself out and become self-sustaining? What if we still want to swim in it? How many plants does it take to keep the algae down and the water clear? Do we need any special equipment? How do we make a shelf for the plants to sit? So many questions!