A few days ago, Parisians bathed in the Saint-Martin canal. Why can’t we do the same in Toulouse in the Canal du Midi and the Garonne?
Last week in Paris, on a swam for the first time in the Saint-Martin canal. “Why in Toulouse, can’t we also swim in the Canal du Midi or the Garonne by creating secure areas? asks Valérie Piganiol, president of the Toulouse Au Fil de l’O club, which brings together professionals from the Toulouse waterways. She also challenged on the subject Dominique Faure, the former vice-president of Toulouse Métropole who became Secretary of State for rurality. “In addition to the well-being distributed to those who do not have a swimming pool in periods of high heat, we are also thinking of economic broadcasts for the length of the canal in terms of catering, nautical equipment, etc. she says.
A situation which however does not flow from source: “Bathing in the canal is prohibited and above all not recommended, assures Florent Bousquet, head of the VNF unit, who cites three reasons: the Canal du Midi and the side canal are artificial water with inconspicuous currents, close to locks, hence the danger for the swimmer. The infrastructure has an inconspicuous background and finally the conflict is always possible with the users of these channels”. Without forgetting also the health risks related to the quality of the water such as contamination with leptospirosis, carried by rodents. According to Florent Bousquet, no reach on this stretch would therefore be suitable for swimming. This analysis makes Pierre Gaudry smile, boatman for decades on the Canal du Midi. “The canals are waterways which by definition are prohibited for swimming. On the other hand, in exceptional times, nothing prevents it from being authorized with supervision, equipment (buoys), a delimited space and water cleaning. Like in Paris. Good will is lacking.”
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An opinion taken up by Isabelle Hardy, elected opposition member “a lack of will exists. We all hope for a solution on the subject with the enhancement of the Grand Parc Canal, i.e. 3 km of linear”.
To appease the spirits and improve the waters of the canal, VNF 31 culminated in April 2022, a long-term dredging program. Started on the reach of Vic it continues during September on that of Bayard. With a depth of 1m70, this equipment should remove nearly 25,000 m3 of rubbish. At the end of 2022, the side channel will in turn be dredged to a depth of 1.90 m for a withdrawal of 17,000 m3. Too bad that many sectors remain unaffected by this cleaning.
And the Garonne? The prohibition to bathe there dates back to a municipal decree of 1976. bed, carried by the river, swimming remains prohibited, ”assures the City. Bathing in the river is debated every summer when Toulouse-Plage opens. In 2018, after a study on water quality, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) revealed that only rainwater posed a pollution problem. To authorize swimming, it was necessary to delimit an area, identify the sources of pollution and deal with them. Or, since 2018, nothing has changed.
Valérie Piganiol wonders: “about the lack of publication on the quality of the waters of the linear Canal du Midi, Canal Latéral, Garonne and the hundred or so Toulouse waterways. On the number of control stations, depots…”.
The Canal du Midi and the Garonne are not about to be open-air swimming pools.