Paris 2024: Water quality in the Seine continues to be talked about – News


The competitions on the river are controversial and there are great doubts about the cleanliness of the Seine. The most important answers.

That’s what it’s about: There are still almost 100 days left until the Summer Olympics. But the Seine is anything but ready. The latest measurements at the beginning of the month showed that there are still too many fecal bacteria in the river. A French non-governmental organization took water samples over a period of six months and came to the conclusion that swimming was too dangerous or harmful to the health of the athletes under these circumstances. The values ​​are far higher than the international swimming and triathlon association stipulates.

How is Paris preparing for the Games? Competitions as part of the triathlon, open water swimming and the Paralympic Games are to take place in the water. A total of 1.4 billion euros were invested to improve water quality. Last August, a triathlon competition was held in the Seine, but an open water swimming test was canceled due to too many bacteria. “The authorities are clearly sticking to the timetable,” says Natascha Schwyn, SRF’s deputy France correspondent.

What does the situation currently look like? It has been illegal to swim in the Seine for 100 years. This should be possible again after the Olympic Games. “Today it’s hard to imagine that there will be competitions one day,” says Natascha Schwyn. Many questions have not yet been clarified – such as where and how safe bathing areas can be set up next to shipping. Despite the latest report, those responsible are confident that water quality will improve.

Flooded riverside path with people and trees next to a wall


Because of the persistent rain in recent weeks, the water in the Seine has not been able to drain away properly. (Image: 03/06/24)

IMAGO / NurPhoto

The disinfection systems are not yet in operation at the moment and will only be switched on when the temperatures warm up, the prefect of the Paris region explains to SRF. In addition, due to the heavy rain in March and April, it is still far too early to take measurements.

Why is the water in the Seine so dirty? Industrial companies, shipping, agriculture: they have all contributed to pollution. “But the biggest problem is that wastewater continues to flow into the Seine,” says Natascha Schwyn. To date, thousands of households in the region are not connected to the system. Their wastewater is discharged into the Marne, a tributary of the Seine. Added to this is the precipitation: When it rains heavily in Paris, the watercourses quickly overflow and the streets flood.

Aerial view of a city with a river, bridge and ship.


According to those responsible, the Seine is currently cleaner than it has been in 40 years. Doubts remain. (Image: Saint-Denis, 02/28/24)


Is there a plan B? “Those responsible will do everything they can to ensure that the swimming competitions can take place in the Seine,” says Natascha Schwyn. The city has been implementing various measures for three and a half years. For example, households are connected to the sewage system – including houseboats. “The authorities are currently building an enormous underground retention basin that will collect rainwater,” explains the SRF correspondent.

View of the Seine;  with Eiffel Tower with background


“Paris wants to show off impressive images in front of a pompous backdrop,” says Natascha Schwyn. (07/17/23)

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

What does politics say? For decades, politicians have been promising that one day you will be able to swim in the Seine, explains Natascha Schwyn. Including former President Jacques Chirac. “In the 1990s he announced: ‘Within three years I will jump into the Seine’. Now Mayor Anne Hidalgo has done the same and announced that she would like to jump into the Seine in the summer.”

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