Seine Pollution Could Hinder Olympic Swim Events

Events like the triathlon could be impacted if tests continue to reveal high levels of dangerous bacteria in Paris’ famous river.

1 minute read

April 16, 2024, 10:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View from middle of River Seine in Paris with Eiffel Tower on right side.

The River Seine and Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. | adisa / Adobe Stock

The River Seine in Paris could be too polluted to safely host Olympic swimming events in the upcoming summer Olympic games. According to an article in Euronews Green, “water sampling by the European arm of the Surfrider Foundation has revealed that bacteria - including ‘pollution of faecal origin’ - remains dangerously high.”

Swimming in the river has been prohibited since 1923 due to both pollution and dangerous boat traffic. Wastewater plants often dump untreated wastewater upstream. “1.9 million cubic metres of wastewater was discharged into the Seine in 2022.”

The city of Paris is undertaking a 1.4 billion Euro cleanup project to prepare the river for swimming. “It is building a 50,000 metre cubed rainwater storage basin upstream of the Austerlitz bridge. This underground reservoir - fed by a 700 metre long tunnel - is designed to hold water during storms, before releasing it back to the sewer system.” But progress remains slow and, according to Surfrider, all but one of 14 water samples “had alarmingly high amounts of the faecal bacteria enterococci and escherichia coli, with e.coli levels four times too high on one day.”

For now, the fate of some of this summer’s Olympic swimming events remains uncertain.

Monday, April 15, 2024 in Euronews Green

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