The Seine, with Eiffel Tower behind.
The Seine, with Eiffel Tower behind.

PARIS, France – The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has previously made promises that the Seine, the river that flows through the French city, will be clean enough to host open water swimming events during the Olympics this summer. But a certain problem with poop has made that promise a bit more difficult. A plan to clean the river is in the work, but one significant storm could derail that all. So will they be able to clean the river in time? This video from Vox explains it all.

A key promise in Paris’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics was that its famous river, the Seine, would be cleaned up in time to host open water swimming events: the triathlon, para triathlon, and marathon swimming. But swimming has been banned in the Seine for a century because the Paris sewer system is designed to dump wastewater into the river during heavy rain, when the sewers get overwhelmed by stormwater.

When that happens, levels of E. coli, a bacteria associated with fecal matter, spike in the river, making it too contaminated to swim in. In order to make good on its promise to clean the river, Paris officials took on a $1.5 billion USD infrastructure project that includes a massive underground tank and tunnel system meant to hold excess sewage during heavy rain and prevent further contamination of the Seine.

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