Faulty Sewer Valve Behind Cancellation of the Paris 2024 Open Water Test Event

The Paris City Council released a statement that a malfunctioning valve caused the cancellation of last month’s Open Water World Cup stop, which was seen as a test event for the 2024 Olympic Games. After originally postponing the event, the whole competition was cancelled on August 5th due to poor water quality in the Seine river.

At the time of the cancellation, the poor water quality was attributed to above average rainfall in Paris. However, after public authorities conducted an investigation, officials said that “the preferred hypothesis is that of the malfunction of a valve in the sewerage network located at the level of the Tolbiac bridge.” That’s upstream from the Alexandre III bridge, where the competition was slated to kick off.

“Investigations are continuing to understand the sequence of events and determine the measures to be taken in order to guarantee the perfect quality of the water for the holding of the events in 2024,” the statement continued.

Several more measures should be in place by the time the Olympics roll around next year. That includes the currently under-construction Austerlitz storage tank. The completed basin and connected tunnel will hold 13.2 million gallons of water.

However, even with a completed tank and a malfunction-free sewage system, rain could still derail Olympic and Paralympic open water swimming. Paris’ sewer system funnels both rainwater and wastewater. When storms overwhelm the system — which happens about 12 times a year, according to Samuel Colin-Canivez, the city’s lead engineer for the sewage projects — everything gets released into the Seine.

Paris 2024 organizers maintain there is no alternate plan for where to hold open water events if pollution in the Seine is too high. Pollution affecting Olympic open water events is not new. At the Rio Games, waterborne viruses were a major concern. And, at Tokyo 2020, water quality issues were a major storyline in the run up to the Games.

The cleanup of the Seine is meant to launch a new era in Paris. Mayor Anne Hidalgo promised that by summer 2025, locals will have access to about 20 swimming areas along the Seine. Until recently, swimming in the iconic river had been banned since 1923.

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Virgil kritzmacher
18 days ago

How many other faulty sewer valves are there? The Paris folks just told us where they dump sewage. Who’d trust them from now on?

Fukuoka Gold
18 days ago

We SHOULD definitely already be looking into alternative venue.

Not to do it reeks of arrogance and bad planning

ACC fan
19 days ago

And if you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front land in Arizona I can sell you at a good price.

19 days ago

I would submit that this problem is only one of the ‘minor’ issues facing Paris 2024. But, unlike Rio and Tokyo, where there was much more publicity, I just don’t see other problems coming to light in time for a fix, as evidenced in this article where there is NO PLAN B – oh, well, we didn’t want those medals awarded, right? Not since 1923 has there been swimming in the Seine? And the French are going to fix it with Mother Nature herself conspiring? Bon Chance! The traffic issues alone are going to make Paris 2024 a nightmare, and oh, the summer swelter isn’t going away either.

19 days ago

(why is there not a contingency plan, there isnt a lake around they could use)

Reply to  jess
19 days ago

Exactly….cant be too hard to have a clean stretch of water ready as Plan B…..even if the athletes have to be flown there.
There are local and World Cup races organised all the time on a small budget. My local beach does them all summer.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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