Frequently Asked Questions
WHY EXPEDITION SWIM?
Brussels, unlike all other major European cities, does not offer any outdoor swimming opportunities. POOL IS COOL is convinced that outdoor swimming contributes to improving the quality of life in a city. There are many ways to reintroduce outdoor swimming, one of them is the swimming in existing waters in Brussels and more particularly in ponds.
In the summer of 2018, Brussels Environment carried out a study to monitor the quality of surface water and in particular the parameters for authorizing swimming from a health point of view. This study revealed sufficient quality for several ponds in Brussels. The results were the impetus to consider a practical test phase of swimming in some of the ponds for a short period.
WHAT IS THE ENVISIONED RESULT OF EXPEDITION SWIM?
The objective of this test phase is to evaluate the technical feasibility of swimming in existing ponds in Brussels and to estimate the potential impacts of swimming on the ponds, on the surrounding landscape and on the relation with other users and nearby residents. Feedback by participants and the evaluation of the test moments will allow us to collect information that will help us and others to develop and discuss future outdoor swimming opportunities in Brussels.
IS IT ONLY A ONE-TIME EVENT?
Yes, EXPEDITION SWIM is a set of unique swimming moments for the purpose of research. In the framework of EXPEDITION SWIM it will be exceptionally permitted to enter the water on two days for each pond. Otherwise swimming remains forbidden at all other times and places according to the current communal police regulations.
In order to allow swimming permanently, investments and works need to happen in order to provide the necessary infrastructure and management. This does not yet exist today. It’s the intention that the results of EXPEDITION SWIM will be a guideline for the development of future swimming places.
WHY THESE THREE PONDS?
Brussels has more than 300 particular bodies of water. The Neerpede pond in Anderlecht, the pond in the Bois de la Cambre in the City of Brussels and the pond of the Pêcheries Royales in Watermael-Boitsfort were selected for EXPEDITION SWIM by Bruxelles Environnement based on criterias like size and depth, ecological resilience, accessibility and the consent of the respective communes to a temporary test program.
The fact that EXPEDITION SWIM will take place in these three ponds does not mean that these specific ponds will be developed to permanent swimming places in the future.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF SWIMMING ON THE ECOSYSTEM OF THE PONDS?
Outdoor swimming raises questions about the impact on the water and surroundings: on flora and fauna, on the landscape itself and on local residents. Swimming in natural waters can only have a future if it does not harm the existing natural and landscape qualities of a pond, a respectful coexistence of bathers, nature and the people living near the site is necessary. However, only very little comparable research results have been found on this specific question. The study of the environmental impact of swimming is therefore one of the key elements of the project.
That is why we plan to evaluate this test phase:
Before the event, by analysing the water quality of bathing sites on a regular basis, with an inventory of the state of the site and by a site-specific impact study, carried out by an independent consultancy firm. This study will be complemented by an Appropriate Impact Assessment where necessary (Natura 2000 area).
During the event, by monitoring objective parameters (number of participants, mode of transport of participants, waste, ...) and by collecting subjective opinions (of swimmers, passers-by, residents and commercial actors, ...).
After the event, with an inventory of the state of the site after the event and by carrying out an evaluation of the collected data.
This evaluation will be included in a public report that is scheduled for the fall of 2019.
A general advice that we can give you already now: to come to the swimming places, please use public transport or go by bicycle!
UPDATE We received the final reports of the environmental impact studies. The conclusion: there are no objections against EXPEDITION SWIM!
Click here to read more about it.
IS THE WATER QUALITY GOOD ENOUGH FOR SWIMMING?
One of the selection criteria to define the locations for EXPEDITION SWIM was the result for the monitoring of the water quality in the summer of 2018, referring to the Decree of 23 April 2009 of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region on the management of bathing water quality. This year, the water quality of the three ponds will be monitored regularly by Bruxelles Environment before, during and after the EXPEDITION SWIM moments and swimming will only be permitted when the water quality meets the official standards.
IS IT SAFE TO SWIM IN THE PONDS?
The water quality is just one aspect for safe swimming. Before EXPÉDITION SWIM the swimming zones of the different ponds will be examined by divers to make sure that there are no objects under the water that pose a risk. During the swimming moments the participants will be surveilled by lifeguards and a first-aid-service will be present.
HOW CAN I TAKE PART IN EXPEDITION SWIM?
The number of swimmers will be limited. Swimming is organized in time slots for which you can inscribe online beforehand, or on site during EXPÉDITION SWIM. Make sure you bring a proof of inscription on the day of your swim. Inscriptions will start in July when we will also publish the full regulations for taking part in EXPEDITION SWIM.
CAN I HELP TO MAKE EXPEDITION SWIM COME TRUE?
Yes, you can! EXPEDITION SWIM is the project of everyone! Are you a lifeguard (even if your license needs to be refreshed)? Are you handy with tools and good in building things? Are you open to ask people for feedback and information? Would you like to help us in any other way to make outdoor swimming come true in Brussels? Great! Send us a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or come to the info meeting that will be organized soon!
WHO IS BEHIND EXPÉDITION SWIM?
The project for swimming in natural areas was launched a year ago by the Minister of the Environment in collaboration with Bruxelles Environnement.
POOL IS COOL receives support from the Brussels Capital Region and Sport Brussel to realize EXPEDITION SWIM. POOL IS COOL is an independent platform of international citizen experts with backgrounds in architecture, urbanism and sociology. The team of POOL IS COOL came together to revive public outdoor swimming with actions in public space, temporary projects to experience water pleasure, research on conditions and scenarios, and the public debate of ambitions and proposals for outdoor swimming in Brussels. → www.pooliscool.org
Brussels Environment is the environmental and energy administration in the Brussels-Capital Region. Its fields of activity cover the environment in the broadest sense, among others, nature and biodiversity, the management of green spaces and natural areas and the management of non-navigable watercourses. Brussels Environment will monitor water quality before and after swimming days and also assists in exchanges with regional and municipal services. → www.environnement.brussels
EXPEDITION SWIM will be realized in close coordination with the Ville de Bruxellesand the communes of Anderlecht and Watermael-Boitsfort.
EXPEDITION SWIM receives additional support from Sport Brussel, the Sports Department of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC). → www.sportinbrussel.be
K.A.K., the Koekelberg Do-it-yourself Alliance, is a fluctuating group of tinkerers, theater people, thinkers and other resourceful people. Together they invent their own alternative working conditions and open a platform for dialogue and exchange between themselves and with each other. → www.k-a-k.be