Paris Olympics: Water storage basin will keep the Seine clean for swimming

PARIS (AP) — French officials on Thursday inaugurated a Huge water storage basin It aims to help clean up the Seine River, which is set to be the venue for a marathon swim Paris games and the swimming leg of Olympic and Paralympic triathlon.

Sports Minister Amelie O'Dea Castera praised Paris's ability to “provide athletes from all over the world with an exceptional setting on the Seine for their events.”

last year, Swim test events It had to be canceled due to poor water quality. One reason was heavy rainfall that flooded the city's old sewers, causing a mixture of rainwater and untreated sewage to flow into the Seine and leaving safety standards unmet.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, left, and Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee President Toni Estanguette Austerlitz inaugurate the wastewater and rainwater storage basin, which aims to make the Seine river swimmable during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, in Paris. Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Stéphane de Sacuten, Pool via AP)

The giant tank dug next to Austerlitz train station in Paris aims to collect excess rainwater and prevent bacteria-laden sewage from entering the Seine River.

It could hold the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools' worth of dirty water that will now be treated rather than spit out through storm drains into the river.

“We arrived on time,” said Paris region governor Marc Guillaume. “The start of the Games will coincide with water quality that allows for competition. This is a tremendous collective success.”

Paris Mayor Anne Hildago promised she would do it herself Swimming in the Seine River Before the Olympics – maybe Along with President Emmanuel Macron.

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She added that the new storage basin “ensures” that water can be stored even during severe storms, and will help “water levels return to normal as quickly as possible.”

The opening of the basin is the latest step towards a cleaner river and comes as part of a series of newly built facilities, including a water treatment plant in Champigny-sur-Marne east of Paris, which opened last month.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and other officials attend the opening of the Austerlitz sewage and rainwater storage basin, which aims to make the Seine swimmable during the 2024 Paris Olympics, in Paris, Thursday, May 2, 2024. Underground work then leads to the Austerlitz train station In Paris, it is part of a €1.5 billion effort to clean up the Seine so it can host the marathon swimming and triathlon races at the Summer Games from July 26 to August 11, and open it to the general public for swimming from 2025. Stephane de Sacutin, Paul via AP)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and other officials attend the opening of the Austerlitz sewage and rainwater storage basin, which aims to make the Seine river swimmable during the 2024 Paris Olympics, in Paris, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Stéphane de Sacutin), Pool via AP )

During the Olympics, the waters will be tested at 3 a.m. each day to determine if the events can go ahead as planned. Organizers said that if the results are not up to standards, the events may be delayed by a few days.

The estimated cost of the clean-up effort is 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion), paid by the state and local authorities.

“Over more than ten years, we have seen a very significant improvement in the water quality of the Seine and the return of fish and wildlife in our river,” Hidalgo said.

About 35 species of fish now live in the Parisian section of the Paris River, compared to only three species in the 1970s, when waters were low. Very polluted Due to nearby industrial activities.

The Austerlitz wastewater and rainwater storage basin, which aims to make the Seine River swimmable during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, is seen during its opening Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Paris.  The underground workings next to the Austerlitz train station in Paris are part of a €1.5 billion effort to clean up the Seine River so it can host the marathon swims and triathlons at the Summer Games from July 26 to August 11, and are open to the general public for swimming.  From 2025. (Stéphane de Sacuten, Pool via AP)

The Austerlitz wastewater and rainwater storage basin, which aims to make the Seine River swimmable during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, is seen during its opening Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Paris. (Stéphane De Sacuten, Paul via AP)

For decades, the Seine River has been used mainly as a waterway for transporting goods and people or as a water graveyard for abandoned bicycles and other rubbish. Swimming there, with some exceptions, has been illegal since 1923.

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Officials in Paris plan to open several bathing sites to the public in the summer, starting next year.

The Seine River is also to be in the heart A lavish opening ceremony For the Olympic Games, which will see more than 200 sports delegations performing on more than 80 boats in central Paris.

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AP Olympiad: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

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AP journalists Oleg Cetynyk and Masha McPherson contributed to the story.

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