Swimming in shit water? Paris busy with Seine River maintenance ahead of Olympics

A large water tank capable of holding 20 swimming pools will be completed on the 2nd of next month. More than KRW 2 trillion is expected to be invested in the Seine River water quality improvement project alone.

The City of Paris announced that it will use the ‘Austerlitz Basin’, a large water tank in eastern Paris, France, to manage water quality in preparation for the ‘Seine River Swimming Race’ to be held at the Paris Olympics held in July.

According to foreign media such as the Associated Press on the 24th (local time), when concerns were raised about contaminated water at the Seine River swimming competition held for the first time in 101 years, the city of Paris announced that it would trap wastewater in a large water tank.

“In just a few weeks, this place will be filled with water,” said Samuel Colincanives, head of construction for the city of Paris. “If we bring wastewater that would otherwise flow into the Seine River here, we can manage water quality well,” he said.

Previously, as the Paris Olympic Organizing Committee was about to revive the Seine River swimming event introduced at the 1900 Paris Olympics, concerns arose about ‘how to swim in polluted water.’

The Seine River in Paris is known as a romantic space due to the Pont Neuf Bridge, which was the backdrop for the movie ‘The Lovers of Pont Neuf’, but it has serious hygiene problems, such as traces and smells of homeless people urinating. In fact, swimming in the Seine River has been banned since 1923 due to water pollution caused by industrialization.

The organizing committee decided to hold the Olympic and Paralympic triathlon swimming events and open water swimming, also known as ‘swimming marathons’, in the section of Pont Alexandre III and Pont Alma on the Seine River. However, the Surfrider Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO), announced on the 8th, “As a result of measuring the Seine River, only 1 sample out of 14 was found to have water quality that met the standards.”

Despite continued concerns about water quality, Paris Vice Mayor Pierre Labardin expressed his determination to push ahead with the game, emphasizing, “We are confident that we can run the game well because we have improved water quality over the past eight years.” In addition, the French government and the city of Paris invested 1.4 billion euros (about 2.0643 trillion won) to improve the water quality of the Seine River. The water tank facility, which will be completed on the 2nd of next month, is capable of filling 50,000 ㎥ of water, which is the size of 20 Olympic swimming stadiums combined. There is a circular tunnel with a diameter of 2.5 m in the wall, and the end of this 620 m long tunnel is said to reach the Seine River. If wastewater from the Seine River flows into the tunnel and is trapped in the tank, further pollution of the river outside can be prevented. During heavy rain, overflowing river water is sent to the tank through a tunnel to prevent the Seine River from overflowing and mixing with sewage from nearby public toilets. Meanwhile, the French government is also preparing an ‘outdoor opening ceremony’ on the Seine River for the first time in the modern Olympics. As the threat of terrorism has recently increased, ‘Plan B’ has also been suggested, but Chairman Bach asserted on the 27th, “The Seine River opening ceremony will be an unforgettable memory for the athletes and everyone will be safe.” 고스톱

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