The big idea with the potential to change aquatics came to David Knighton, M.D., almost a decade ago on a U.S.-bound flight from Germany. During the trip he read a one-page article in Atlantic Monthly about World War I
soldiers whose wounds were treated with a kind of sphagnum moss.
Dr. Knighton, a vascular surgeon and cell biologist, recalls being
struck by the fact that the moss helped prevent infection by
stopping bacteria growth. He hit on a connection to aquatics later,
after noticing that many of the lakes of northern Minnesota, which
contained the same kind of moss used to treat the soldiers, were
cleaner and contained less algae that those farther south. After
successfully improving the water chemistry of his own home spa by
adding some of the moss, Knighton founded Creative Water
Solutions, based in Plymouth, Minn., with his longtime business
partner Vance Fiegel, a cellular biologist and microbiologist.
Together, the two have pioneered advances in chronic wound care and
collaborated on several ventures.
It’s taken approximately eight years of research and
development to bring Creative Water Solutions into the marketplace.
Knighton and Fiegel began testing their moss filtration products
— PoolNaturally (for pools) and SpaNaturally (for spas)
— at commercial aquatics facilities in the St.
Paul-Minneapolis area last summer. Results so far have proven
Based on the pilot studies, adding the moss can reduce chemical
usage significantly, cut down on the amount of backwashing needed
and mitigate the problem of biofilm, says Knighton, who left the
operating room in 2008 to focus solely on R&D.
“My view is that nature has the answer. We just need to look
for it,” Knighton says. “In the aquatics industry, I
think the public is yearning for an experience that’s less
chemically loaded. I just feel very privileged that I was at the
right place at the right time and was able to see this and develop
Knighton says it’s Creative Water Solutions’ scientific
approach, asking questions and challenging existing dogmas, that
has so far made the venture a success. With 21 patents and eight
companies, he plans to take Creative Water Solutions nationwide by