River Seine still failing water quality tests one month before Paris Olympics

The river Seine is still failing water quality tests one month before the Paris Olympics when it is scheduled to host the open-water swimming competition and the swimming leg of the triathlon, results revealed on Friday.

The latest tests, completed last week and released by the Paris mayor’s office, showed levels of the E Coli bacteria – an indicator of faecal matter – are far above the upper limits imposed by sports federations.

On 18 June, the level of E Coli was 10 times acceptable levels and at no point did it fall below the upper limit of 1,000 colony-forming units per 100 millilitres used by the World Triathlon Federation.

The readings for enterococci bacteria were better, but they were still at unsafe levels for several days last week.

“Water quality remains degraded because of unfavourable hydrological conditions, little sunshine, below-average seasonal temperatures and upstream pollution,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

French authorities have spent €1.4bn in the last decade trying to clean up the river by improving the Paris sewerage system, as well as building new water treatment and storage facilities. But major storms still overwhelm the capital’s waste water network, some of which dates back to the 19th century, leading to discharges of untreated sewage directly into the river.

After months of unusually wet weather, the Seine is currently high up its banks, with its flow around four to five times higher than its usual level in the summer months, according to recent readings.

Organisers insist that some dry weather and sunshine in July should be sufficient to make the Seine fit for the outdoor swimming events.

The Guardian