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Seine River May Not Be Suitable for 2024 Olympics, With Backup Plans Underway

© AFP 2023 / Lionel BonaventureГонка по серфингу с веслом Nautic SUP Crossing в Париже
Гонка по серфингу с веслом Nautic SUP Crossing в Париже - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.07.2024
Swimming in the river has been banned since 1923. Paris’ wastewater network dates back to the 19th century, making it sensitive to events such as major storms which can overwhelm it and lead to an overflow of untreated sewage which pollutes the river.
With the Summer Olympics just days away, alternative plans have to be made for swimmers as the Seine River may not be suitable for the sporting event's use due to high levels of E. coli contamination. Instead, the Paris 2024 marathon swimming event may take place just outside Paris. Previously, the Surfrider Foundation warned that swimming in the famous river could pose serious health risks to athletes.
"The rules of World Triathlon allow, as a final resort, for the competition to be held in a duathlon format. On the other hand, in order to guarantee that marathon swimming events could still be held if all other contingency plans were exhausted, we have initiated a fallback plan based on the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium," a Paris 2024 spokesperson told Reuters on Friday.
"The competition site, already used for rowing and canoeing events, has all the necessary features to host these events if required."
On Thursday, the Paris mayor’s office made a statement saying that the quality of the water in the Seine river had improved, with tests showing the level of toxic bacteria had been reduced to an “acceptable limit” for four consecutive days, France 24 reported. Reuters reported that the concentrations of enterococci and E.coli bacteria were below legal thresholds six out of nine days between June 24 and July 2.
“This positive development is a consequence of the return of sunshine and warmth as well as the effects of the work done as part of the strategy to improve the quality of the Seine’s waters,” a statement from the mayor’s office said.
Previously, E. Coli levels were 10 times the upper limit of 1,000 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters (cfu/ml) which prompted anxiety amongst the Olympic community. French authorities have spent 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in the past decade in an effort to clean up the Seine River by addressing the Paris sewage system and is building new water treatment and storage facilities.
However, the quality of the water also depends on natural occurrences like rainfall and water temperature; but the good weather in Paris this week is expected to help the quality of the water remain up to par.
Parisians first took to social media last month to express their frustration around the cleanliness of the Seine. The movement was called "Je Chie Dans La Seine Le 23 Juin" or "I poop in the Seine on June 23," as a way to draw attention to the amount of fecal bacterium in the water as well as French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to swim in the river as a way to prove its cleanliness and safety.
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