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Paris inaugurates giant water storage basin to clean up the River Seine for Olympic swimming

PARIS (AP) — French officials on Thursday inaugurated a huge water storage basin intended to help clean the Seine, which is expected to host a swimming marathon in the Paris Games and the swimming leg of Olympic and Paralympic triathlons.

The Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, praised Paris’ ability “to offer athletes from around the world an exceptional setting on the Seine for their events”.

Last year, swimming test events had to be canceled due to poor water quality. One reason was heavy rains that overwhelmed the city’s old sewers, causing a mixture of rainwater and untreated sewage to spill into the Seine and leaving safety standards unmet.

The giant reservoir dug next to Paris’s Austerlitz train station aims to collect excess rainwater and prevent bacteria-laden wastewater from entering the Seine.

It can hold the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools of dirty water which will now be treated rather than being discharged raw down storm drains into the river.

“We are on time,” declared the prefect of the Paris region, Marc Guillaume. “The start of the Games will coincide with water quality enabling competition. This is a tremendous collective success.

Paris Mayor Anne Hildago promised she would do it herself swim in the Seine before the Olympics – maybe alongside President Emmanuel Macron.

The new storage pond “ensures” water can be stored even during severe storms, and will help water levels “return to normal as quickly as possible”, she said.

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

During the Olympics, the water will be tested every day at 3 a.m. to determine if the events can go ahead as planned. If the results were not up to par, the events could be delayed by a few days, organizers said.

The estimated cost of the cleanup efforts is 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion), paid by state and local authorities.

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

About 35 species of fish now live in the Paris section of the river, compared to just three in the 1970s, when the waters were extremely polluted due to nearby industrial activities.

For decades, the Seine was used primarily as a waterway for transporting goods and people or as a watery grave for abandoned bicycles and other trash. Swimming has, with a few exceptions, been illegal there since 1923.

Parisian authorities plan to open several swimming sites to the general public this summer, starting next year.

The Seine will also be at the heart of the grand opening ceremony for the Olympic Games which will see more than 200 delegations of athletes parade on more than 80 boats in the center of Paris.


AP Olympics:


AP journalists Oleg Cetinic and Masha Macpherson contributed to this story.

News Source :
Gn world

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