Germs in Pegnitz: Will the surf wave become a diarrhea wave?

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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The surfers of Nuremberg have been waiting for this day. Finally, the water is gushing over the dam in Pegnitz again. Behind the facility, a so-called standing wave forms, which the athletes ride on their boards. “I’m really happy that the wave is back. It’s an indescribable feeling to actually feel the water again and to be able to surf in the city,” says Sara Hammon. The young woman stands on the edge of the trench wave with her surfboard under her arm and waits for the next wave.

Only club members can surf

The maintenance and repair work took five months. The wave can now be operated with more water, says Thorsten Keck. He is chairman of the Nuremberg Permanent Wave Association, which operates the facility. “The wave is only powered by hydroelectric power, no electric pumps are needed,” he explains. The overall concept worked technically. And it will be well received. “We now have 500 club members who surf here seven days a week.” And that too In the middle of winter. The public surfing offer on weekends is full. “We offer courses and do work with young people.”

Athletes try not to swallow water

The water is a chilly 17 degrees this morning. Surfers protect themselves against this with wetsuits. But another danger can also lurk in the river water: E. coli bacteria, which can cause stomach and intestinal problems. That’s why some surfers call the Fuchsloch wave the “diarrhea wave.” This morning’s athletes know to be careful. They wear nose clips to protect themselves from germs. Or they simply stop running if they fall into the water after surfing – just don’t swallow any water.

Swimming is prohibited – but sports are allowed

The Pegnitz is not suitable for bathing. That is why swimming is prohibited. On the one hand, this is due to the dangerous currents of the river. But the quality of the water also plays a role, explains Nuremberg’s environmental officer Britta Walthelm (Greens). Because it changes depending on the weather conditions. “After rain, water can flow into the river from fields that have just been fertilized.” This is one way in which E. coli bacteria can enter the water. “In rare cases, it can also happen that the canals overflow when they are at maximum capacity, causing wastewater to flow into the river.”

Nevertheless: Water sports are permitted in Pegnitz. Even if athletes swallow significantly more water than normal swimmers. Members of the surf club are informed about the risks, says councilor Thorsten Keck. The association monitors the water quality and works with environmental analysts from the city, who regularly take water samples. Members are informed about the data. “And after heavy rains etc., we immediately stop surfing,” says Keck. “We have it under control and haven’t had a single incident in two years.”

Permanent waves are becoming an export hit

In any case, the complaints about the “diarrhea wave” did not derail the project, says Keck. A system based on the Nuremberg model has already been built in Hanover. In addition, athletes and cities from all over Europe are interested in the concept of a standing river wave. The Fuchsloch wave cost a total of 2.9 million euros. The Free State and the city of Nuremberg financed part of this through sports grants. The club covers the rest through membership fees and sponsors.

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