The quality of the Seine’s water is “alarming” before the Paris Olympics, warns an NGO

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A nonprofit organization focused on waterway conservation has raised concerns about pollution in Paris’ Seine River ahead of open-water swimming events to be held there during the Olympic and Paralympic Games beginning in July.

The Surfrider Foundation saying On Monday, tests on one bridge, the Alexander III Bridge, between September and March regularly turned up higher, and sometimes much higher, levels of E. coli bacteria and enterococci than the recommended threshold, which may be an indication of matter fecal.

The bridge is the planned Finish line for the 10 kilometer swimming marathon and the aquatic part of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. triathlons.

But Ile-de-France electoral district officials fired Surfrider testing on Monday, saying it could swim in the water for the Summer Games after key elements of a $1.5 billion plan to clean the river are implemented in April and May. And the city’s deputy mayor for sports and Olympic and Paralympic Games, Pierre Rabadan, said in an interview Tuesday in Paris that the findings ignore a steady improvement in water quality in recent years. “I didn’t learn anything from the surveys they did,” he said.

The Seine, which winds through Paris, Historically it is not considered an attractive place to swim.. Entering the water has been banned for a century due to health concerns, including sewage.

But cleaning it was an important commitment made by Parisian authorities as part of their bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

Along with select sporting events, the river will be the center of the opening ceremonies. athletes You’ll cruise the Seine on cruise ships with spectators lining its banks.instead of the traditional parade on land.

In an open letter, Surfrider said it was increasingly concerned about the risks to Olympic athletes if the water was still contaminated in July, and called its test results “alarming.”

The cleanup plan has faced other setbacks. In August the Open Water Swimming World Cup was held, which will be held on the Seine in Paris. cancelled due to poor water quality after above average rainfall. Two of the four days of Olympic trials they were canceled that month for the same reason.

But in a press release on Monday, the Ile-de-France district said key structural works in its cleanup plan had yet to be implemented, including the massive new Austerlitz stormwater storage basin.

He added that the water treatment plant disinfection units that would be activated for the Games were not operational during Surfrider’s testing period; that water quality had been degraded by heavy winter rains, which would not be a factor during the Summer Games; and that the boats on the Seine, some of that discharge wastewater into the river, would be connected to the city’s sanitation network in summer or displaced for the Olympic Games.

He said the water of the Seine will be “swimmable” in time for summer events.

“It is well known that the [winter] This season, which is a time with a lot of rain, is not suitable for swimming,” Rabadan said.

He said the city’s own measurements show water quality was better in recent months than in previous winters, suggesting cleanup efforts are working. “There really is a continuous improvement in the quality of the Sena,” she said.

Rabadan added that there is no alternative venue for the Olympic and Paralympic swimming events to be held in the Seine, but that organizers may postpone some competitions for several days if the water quality is insufficient.

Plans to clean the river. have been underway since 2016, and authorities aim to open more than 20 swimming spots to the public after the Olympics, which Rabadan said will “reconnect residents and tourists a little more with their urban river” and “provide opportunities for swimming.” refreshment during the summer periods, which continue to increase. “hotter.”

Rick Noack in Paris contributed to this report.

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