Paris

The Seine River, has confronted persistent environmental challenges over the decades, stemming primarily from pollution and neglect. In 1923, swimming in its waters was prohibited, reflecting early concerns about water quality.

In 1940, the construction of the Seine aval water plant marked the initial response to mitigate pollution levels. Subsequent legislative actions, notably the passage of the first water law in 1964 and the introduction of the European bathing directive in 1976, underscored a growing imperative to address the river’s degradation.

During the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, concerted efforts led to a tenfold increase in the treatment capacity of the Seine aval plant and the establishment of the Seine amont water treatment facility. These actions were aimed to enhance water purification processes and mitigate the impact of urban pollutants.

The adoption of the first European directive on urban waters treatment in 1991 signified a broader commitment to improving water quality across the continent. Subsequent initiatives, such as the 2016 action plan for Seine river quality improvement, emphasized collaborative strategies to address ongoing environmental concerns.

The implementation of the Olympic Law Stormwater zoning Parispluie in 2018 represented a significant milestone in Paris’ efforts to manage stormwater runoff, a major contributor to river pollution. The opening of the Austerlitz stormwater tank further bolstered the city’s infrastructure for handling environmental challenges.

These cumulative actions reflect a sustained commitment to restoring and preserving the Seine River’s water quality especially for the upcoming Olympic games. As Paris continues its efforts to safeguard this iconic waterway, the Seine serves as a testament to the importance of proactive environmental stewardship in urban settings.

Paris's timeline

Key moments in Paris’s swimmability
1923
Swimming in the Seine in Paris is forbidden
1940
Seine Aval water treatment plant is build
1964
1ᵉ Water law
1976
1ᵉ European Bathing Directive
1978 – 1987
10-fold increase in Seine Aval treatment capacity Seine among water treatment plant is build
1991
1ᵉ European Directive on urban waters treatment
2016
Action plan for Seine river quality improvement
2018
Olympic Law Stormwater zoning ParisPluie implementation
2024
Austerlitz stormwater tank

Paris's
drivers to success

Monitoring

Information provision of water quality monitoring and forecasting ensures safe waters and improves public perception of swimmability.

Safety/accessibility

Accessible waterfront facilities allow for a safe and inviting swimming environment.

Improved perception

Positive public perception of urban water, triggered by for example (sports) events, accelerates the use of urban water for swimming.

EU water policies

European water policies create a framework for mandatory water quality improvement.

Public Commitment

Public advocating for liveable waterfronts and improved water quality leads to effective change.

Reducing CSO discharge

Decreased combined sewer overflow discharge greatly reduces water pollution and enables safe swimming

Authority

Our partners who have made their contributions.

French National Authority for Health

Responsible for public health and water quality in relation to recreational use of water.

Prefecture of Île-de-France

Local governance of national policy on water quality and environment.

Water agency of the Seine and Normandy

Responsible for supervision on water quality in the Seine catchment area.

Blogs & knowledge

Video 'reinventing the Seine'

AIWW Keynote Paul Kennouche – Reinventing the Seine…

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