Portland draining reservoir after man urinates in it
Portland, Oregon's Mount Tabor reservoir holds 8 million gallons of drinking water.
June 16th, 2011
08:58 AM ET

Portland draining reservoir after man urinates in it

Oregon's Portland Water Bureau is draining an 8 million-gallon reservoir after surveillance cameras caught a man urinating into it this week.

The move will cost the water bureau $35,000 - $28,000 in lost revenue and $7,500 in disposal costs, CNN affiliate KATU-TV reports.

Is that worth it when the urine involved is really a drop in the bucket?

Scientifically, no, said Dave Stone, an assistant professor of toxicology at Oregon State University, who spoke to The Oregonian newspaper about the, er, leak.

"How many animals are doing that or birds?" Stone asked. "I don't want to second-guess the city, but I can't think of anything chemically that would have me be concerned."

Dr. Gary Oxman, a Multnomah County health officer, also told The Oregonian: "The health risk associated with that is really, really tiny."

A healthy bladder holds up to 16 ounces of urine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Water bureau administrator David Shaff told KATU it's not about the science.

"There are people who will say it’s an overreaction,” he said. “I don’t think so. I think just dealing with the ‘yuck factor,’ I can imagine how many people would be saying, ‘I made orange juice with that water this morning. That’s not what I want to hear.’ ”

And City Commissioner Randy Leonard told CNN affiliate KGW-TV that the water in the Mount Tabor reservoir is chlorinated before it enters the reservoir.

"The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," Leonard said.

Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau told KGW the whole mess didn't have to be.

"It's really an unfortunate incident that probably could have been avoided had he chosen a bush," Simpson said.

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Filed under: Health • Oregon • Portland
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. AT

    That is the secret ingredient to Portland Water!

    Pee once a day to keep the ducks and geese away ...

    June 16, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. svann

    Was there a sign "NO PEEING"? Seriously. Does Portland know what bears do in the woods?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • ruatexan2

      The sign could read... "Welcome to our drinking OOL, notice there is no P in it."

      June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Aquaman

    No talk of a new fence for the reservoir?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. Fundies

    that's some golden pee.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. ruatexan2

    If the city is so concerned with the contamination of the water, then why don't they build a covered reservoir and then there couldn't be any contamination from animals, birds or overactive bladders.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • gesner

      The residents don't want to pay for covering it. It looks too pretty. Nor will they move the fence. We just pay for rent a cops that can't stop the guy in mid-pee anyway. The city government is by council, enough said....

      June 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael Andrews

    How many small animals and bugs get past that fence? Birds will drink, pee, poop and bathe in that open air water reserve. Plenty of old farms had open wells where mice and rats fall in and drown. A mouse can easily get into that water system. If I was in charge, I would have kept that camera footage quiet and stop that guy from peeing again in it. The admin should definitely be disciplined over that decision. Throw a little extra chorine in that area. Just swiming in a public area is much worse. Why would anyone use an open air water pit these days? I can not expect much from a state that has no self service gas pumps.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Theres really no way they dont treat the water after the reservoir. It would violate federal law.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. M0reCowBell

    The city would be wise to spend a few more bucks to move the fence further away from the reservoir. A little foresight by the engineering dept. would have saved a bundle. Remember – if it CAN happen it WILL happen.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. mikeg1950

    Wonder how many dead bodies they will discover?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis

    W.C. Feilds used to say he would not drink water because fish f&^% in it...and fish reproduce by releasing their sperm into the water and the female fish swimming through it...doesn't anyone remember their biology?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. Fred Barnett

    They should offer an electrified fence for the drunks to pee on.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Then they should install a better quality security camera so we can all get a good laugh.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. ksmo

    How many birds drop a load into that water each day?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    "The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," Leonard said.

    Thanks for clearing that up for everyone Leonard.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sploogerific

    "The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," .....That is the dumbest thing I've heard......

    June 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dave B

    Seriously? Do you drain it every time a bird flies over and takes a dump in it, too? Because frankly, I'd rather have a quart of sterile urine in my drinking water than a bunch of bird excriment, not to mention god-knows-what-else that gets in there on a daily basis.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. Doomguy

    Don't they treat that water before sending it out anyway?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
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