PARIS (Reuters) - On a
sunny spring day, Dan Angelescu was testing the water quality of Paris’ Seine river by the bridge Alexander III - a scenic view for next year’s swimming marathon and triathlon Olympic trials.
Angelescu has been working for the city since 2017 on its longtime project to make the Seine swimmable. The 2024 Games are a good opportunity to fast-track it in order to host some sporting events in the famous river - as was done at the first Paris Olympics of 1900.
That day, concentration levels for two bacteria, E.coli and Enterococcus, both indicators of fecal material in the water, were low enough to safely bathe in the river according to Angelescu. The challenge is to maintain those levels.
The main risk comes from storms. When rainwater pours into the Parisian sewage system it can overflow and the extra water is then discharged in the river, polluting it with toxic bacteria.
To avoid this happening next summer, the city is building a massive underground basin in the south of Paris, with a 50,000 cubic meters capacity - about the equivalent of 20 Olympic pools. The Austerlitz basin will collect rainfall to avoid the overflow, said Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor in charge of the Games’ organization.