Huge River Seine stormwater basin opens ahead of Paris Olympics

Government and Olympics officials on Thursday inaugurated the Austerlitz basin – a massive underground cistern that's a key part of efforts to enmake the River Seine remains clean enough to host swimming events during the Paris Olympics.

After three years of work, the 30-metre deep basin next to Austerlitz train station is ready.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Olympic organising committee head Tony Estanguet on Thursday marked the completion of the project, which will start operations before the end of the month.

The basin is one of five big anti-pollution plants due to come on stream in the weeks leading up to the Games. It can hold 46,000 cubic metres of water, the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools.

It will be used whenever heavy rain falls on Paris.

Pollution levels have become a major issue ahead of the Olympics, whose marathon swimming events and triathlon are to be held in the Seine if the water stays clean enough.

"In Paris, our dream was to bathe in the river like the Parisians used to do 100 years ago. The Olympics gave this project a huge boost," Hidalgo said Thursday.

Sewer system update

Olympic organisers have acknowledged that a major storm could lead to the Seine being out of bounds even with the basin operational.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
The real star of the Paris Olympics is the storied River Seine
How Paris plans to put on the greenest Games in Olympic history
Paris mayor to take a dip in the River Seine days before Olympics