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Profiles in Design: Ojai Pool Store and California BioNova

Ojai’s Chemical-Free Pool Experts Build Natural Pools to Benefit Swimmers and Wildlife


Studio: 510 West El Roblar Drive, Ojai; californiabionova.com.

Specialties: Public and private 100 percent chemical-free pool design and construction.

Notable Projects: Appearing on Animal Planet’s The Pool Master episode with Anthony Archer-Wills; building a 21,000-square-foot public pool in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and designing, building, or remodeling more than 100 bodies of water in the tri-county area.

Upcoming Project: A large “net-zero” build in Northern California.

“It’s essentially a living pond,” says Troy Becker, the owner of the Ojai Pool Store, while explaining that you might find an adorable frog in certain areas of one of his carefully constructed California BioNova pools, which require no sterilization. “The main difference between this pool and any other pool is that there are no chemicals going into the water.”

Becker’s landscaped pools came to fame when he was commissioned to advise Anthony Archer-Wills to build one of his stylish natural swimming pools in Ojai for an episode of Animal Planet’s The Pool Master.

Instead of chemicals, California BioNova pools use a complex engineering system, as well as layers of rock serving as a planted area that produces a regeneration zone. “Basically what we are creating is a beneficial bacteria factory,” says Becker of the patented technology licensed in Germany and built to comply with the strict safety and health certification standards adopted by the European Union.

“We have all of the water-quality testing to prove that what we do is going to ensure clean, safe water for the long haul,” says Becker, whose work won the Best Import award from Sunset magazine in 2015. He is now working to create a similar certification specifically for the United States.

Over the years, the Ojai Pool Store has designed, built, or remodeled more than 100 bodies of water in the tri-county area, as well as many luxury pools in Malibu, primarily for residents living in sensitive ecological areas or wary of chemicals.

Part of Becker’s work has also been debunking the common myth that the “green” salt pools that have become increasingly popular in recent years do not contain chemicals. “We have clients that swear that their salt pool doesn’t have chlorine in it,” he says, while explaining that the salt in salt pools is simply converted into chlorine once in the pool. “Salt is chlorine, and it comes as kind of a shock to people.”

The attraction of California BioNova pools appears to be growing. Last year, Becker’s team completed the first chemical-free commercial swimming pool in the U.S.“Thousands of people swim in this pool every day,” says Becker of the 21,000-square-foot public pool in Minneapolis. And now the company is working on a net-zero private build in Northern California, where their pools are currently the only fit for the project.

“It’s a great experience,” says Becker of swimming next to the flora and fauna in one of his natural designs. “You definitely need to try it if you get a chance.”

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