The iconic Canal Saint-Martin was drained in Paris for the first time in 15 years, as part of a cleanup, and the resulting sludge revealed at least one gun, lots of drowned bicycles, and other items suggesting the waterway is a convenient place to lose things.
The canal draining is part of a $10-million cleaning and renovation that will last until April, said Agence France-Presse
. Some 40 tons of rubbish was removed from the Canal Saint-Martin the last time it was cleaned in 2001, said The Guardian
Julien Gaidot, the engineer in charge of the operation, told The Local
that people are being asked to stay out of the canal during the cleaning process and to not search for items that might have been lost in it.
"We are concerned that people may venture in and try to find their belongings," he said.
A Guardian inventory of items emerging from the canal included plenty of Paris's Vélib hire bikes, lots of other bikes, a wide variety of chairs, at least one motorbike, supermarket trolleys, shopping caddies, public dustbins, a fire-extinguisher, street signs, umbrellas and suitcases.
"We haven't found the body yet," joked project hydrobiologist Romain Zeiller, noted AFP.
Marion Escarpit, from a local anglers' association, said an increase in marine life in the canal speaks to its health, despite the trash always being dumped into it.
"In the 1980s, there were only two varieties of fish in Paris," Escarpit told AFP. "Now there are 35."
"We have found very few fish that are sick or malformed. That's surprising when you see what's there at the bottom of the canal."
Gaidot told The Local that 50 centimeters of water will remain in the canal to allow remaining fish to reach the Seine.
The Canal Saint-Martin was completed in 1825 after Napoleon wanted a way to reinforce the city's drinking water supply, said The Guardian. The canal has become a favorite spot for what the British newspaper called "bourgeois bohemians – wealthy, urban, young left-wingers who love to gather for summer evening aperitifs on the pavements along its banks."
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