First public pool of its kind in North America is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day
The much anticipated Webber Park Natural Swimming Pool (NSP) opened on Friday, July 24. Swimming is free and hours are 1-7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend, including Monday, September 7.
Major construction is completed, however the pool’s unique water management systems need ongoing monitoring and additional specialized robotic vacuums to maintain the pool before it can open daily. A grand opening will be held next summer. Details/photos of the pool are at minneapolisparks.org/activities_events/water_activities/pools/webber_natural_swimming_pool/.
“We’re really excited to have it opening,” said Jayne Miller, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “It’s innovative. It’s part of what keeps our Parks System the number one park system in the United States. It’s better for the environment and for users because we’re not using any chemicals.”
NSPs use filters and plants, not chemicals, to cleanse the water. While more than 20,000 public and private NSPs are in Europe, this is the first public NSP to be built in North America. The Webber pool is larger than many European NSPs. It holds 500,000 gallons of water and the regeneration basin near the pool holds approximately 7,000 aquatic plants rooted in layers of limestone and granite gravel. Pool water flows through biological filters before reaching the regeneration basin. Plants and gravel layers in the regeneration basin help cleanse the water before it is pumped back into the pool. The entire 500,000 gallons of pool water is cycled through the filters and regeneration basin every 12 hours.
The pool is also vacuumed daily. The first specialized robotic vacuums used by the Park Board were not effective and returned in June. Another type and set of robotic vacuums, needed to expedite the daily cleaning process, are being custom built and are expected to arrive by early September. In the meantime, Park Board employees are hand cleaning and vacuuming the pool; the hand cleaning and vacuuming takes 16 hours a day.
The Webber pool facility features upper and lower pools with zero depth entry for accessibility. The upper pool is shallower, reaching 3’7” deep. The larger lower pool offers an open swim area sloping to 6’4” deep and a lap swim area approximately 6’ deep. The lower pool also features a jumping platform into 11’7” deep water.
The Webber pool house provides entry into the facility, restrooms and a drinking fountain with water bottle filling station. Lockers and showers are located outside the pool house. Lifeguards will be on duty whenever the pool is open.
Landscape plantings around the swimming provide a welcoming and natural setting. The regeneration basin features dozens of aquatic plant species. The regeneration basin also offers valuable habitat for frogs, turtles and other wildlife.
“It’s just an absolutely world-class facility right here in North Minneapolis. And admission is free,” said Jon Olson, Park Board Commissioner. ”We’re opening a pool that would traditionally be a paid facility. This pool is going to be free and we’re eliminating barriers so folks can come, swim and recreate.”
Olson is quick to praise those who have supported the project. “We’ve had tremendous support at the legislature, the county, the city and, most importantly, the community. The community has just been tremendous in the support that they’ve given this project and the excitement that’s been out there.”
2015 Lap swimming and swim lessons
In addition to free admission and open swimming, there will be fee-based programs offered at noon starting July 31. Registration is available at recreation centers, the pool house or minneapolisparks.org/register.
- Lap swimming: noon-1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. $3 per day or $24 for a 10 visit punch pass.
- Swim lesson session: noon-12:40 p.m., Friday-Saturday, eight lessons, four weeks, July 31-August 21. $50 resident and $60 non-resident (scholarships available)
Keep it clean, keep it open
Efforts are underway to educate soon-to-be pool users about use of the facility, to help keep the water clean and the pool open:
- No food, beverages, tobacco, pets or glass items inside the pool facility; no street shoes in the pool
- Proper swim attire must be worn
- Toddlers and babies must wear swim diapers (available at pool house for $2)
- Pool users must use outdoor showers at the facility before entering pool
- Pool users should not swim if they have open sores or are sick
- Pool users must follow all rules posted at the facility