Latest River Tests Signal Seine River Too Polluted for Olympics Games

Recent river testing has shown that the Seine River is not clean enough to hold the upcoming water events at the Paris Olympics. $1.5 billion was spent on river cleanup for the Olympics.

The Seine will host the Opening Ceremony, a number of aquatic events, and other Olympic activities. 

In addition to passing the garbage and murkiness tests, the water quality must be less than 500 CFU/100 mL of colony-forming E. coli. 

In the 1960s, the Seine was deemed biologically dead, indicating that the hazardous conditions could not support life. The famous river has been off-limits to swimmers since 1923.

A weekly report claims that the elevated bacterial levels detected in the test conducted on June 16 were caused by the recent inclement weather in France.

There is no backup plan for the Olympic competitions other than delaying the open-water swimming events for a few days.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and President Emmanuel Macron both made public commitments to swim in the river as a symbol that the costly cleanup had been worthwhile.

Laurent Nuñez, the chief of the Paris police, and Marc Guillaume, the governor of the Ile-de-France region, were among those that Hidalgo had previously said they would be diving into the Seine. The elevated levels of E. coli caused her to delay going swimming. Still, during a news conference, she promised her audience that she would swim prior to the Opening Ceremonies.

The French environmental group Surfrider has stated that it is still worried about competitors swimming in the Seine River, which is known for its pollution. For more than seven months, Surfrider has been diligently sampling the river monthly to track the bacterial levels.

The organization shared the results of its 14 samples in a news statement. Regardless of the weather, just 1 sample allowed their team to determine that the water quality at a specific spot was barely sufficient.  The findings do not take into consideration additional biological or chemical contaminants as they are derived from just two bacterial species.

According to the group, it is evident that the athletes participating in the Seine-based Olympic and Paralympic competitions will be swimming in water that is significantly contaminated, posing a substantial threat to their health.

According to Ipsos polling, 36% of respondents expressed the hope that the Seine would be swimmable.