Can Paris fix its poop problem before the Olympics?

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, paratriathlon, 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, making the water too contaminated to swim in.

To deliver on their promise to clean the river for the Olympics, Paris officials took on a $1.5 billion USD infrastructure project that included a massive underground tank and tunnel system that could hold excess sewage during heavy rain to minimize contamination of the Seine.

Paris officials will test water quality daily ahead of the Olympic games. They’re hopeful their ambitious plan to host swimming in the famously polluted river will succeed, but the likelihood of open water swimming taking place will also depend on weather and luck.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

This video is presented by BetterHelp. Head to for 10 percent off your first month. BetterHelp doesn’t have a say in our editorial decisions, but it makes videos like this possible.

Follow by Email