Detailed plans for the cleaning up of the River Seine in time to hold swimming events at the 2024 Olympics have been announced by Parisian authorities. The plans include the installation of ultraviolet filters at the Valenton and Noisy-le-Grand purification plants upstream of the Seine to eliminate E.coli and enterococcus bacteria, new underground storage tanks to manage rainwater overflow, and measures to prohibit the discharge of dirty water from buildings and barges.
Although it has yet to be officially confirmed, Paris is expected to host the summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2024 after its main rival, LA, struck a deal to hold the games in 2028.
The ambitious plan to have the Seine clean enough to play host to the triathlon event was first unveiled last year by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. Efforts to improve the quality of the water for bathers have already shown results. This summer a swimming area was opened in the Canal de l’Ourcq, marking the first time that Parisians could legally bathe in city waters since the activity was banned in 1923 due to high levels of pollution. Célia Blauel, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of sustainable development and water said: “The quality of the Seine is much better than twenty years ago, and the proof is that there are now thirty-five species [of fish], compared with only two in the 1970s.” In 2011 a triathlon was held in the Seine but it was cancelled the following year due to health concerns. Last month the swimming area in the Canal de l’Ourcq was closed for a day after high levels of enterococci were detected. Overall, however, the scheme has been a success with authorities considering another nine potential swimming sites to be opened up to the public.