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. marie richards

    Why don't they take the wrongdoer and charge him plus give him a ticket amounting to $25,000 so that he remembers that this is not a place to discharge his bladder?

    He will never forget it and others will be thinking twice about doing it.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      He has as much money as the birds, but the directors, that's another story.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • somuchfor

      You are overreacting too.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      Rule of law. Before you can fine someone there has to be a law on the books authorizing penalty for his action. You cant just say "We dont like what you did so we are going to make something up". Was there even a warning sign saying "NO PEEING"? Im doubting it. Anyway, do you know what bears do in the woods?

      June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. TinKnight

    Ok, I have two comments on this:
    A) It's nestled amongst trees and plantlife...how many times have birds pooped in that open-topped reservoir? And THAT is a bigger health risk than urine.
    B) If, as the Commissioner says, it's chlorinated before going into the reservoir & not as it leaves, that just makes me never want to drink the water in Portland, because there are millions of things that could go wrong with that.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      It has to be treated after. It would violate federal law not to.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Thomas

    Well there you go... all you people who say the Bushes were good for nothing (presidents)... ""It's really an unfortunate incident that probably could have been avoided had he chosen a bush," Simpson said."
    Now which "bush" would //you// use?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. David42

    "The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," If this is the case? I refer to the top of the artical about animals. The city must have pleanty of extra money.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. morons

    I don't know who is the bigger moron...the person that ordered this to be drained, or the person who called and demanded it.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pancho and Lefty

    Libertarianism strikes again.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. davej

    So they are OK with drinking all the duck sh-t but the pee was just too much for them? Maybe they need to filter and chlorinate AFTER the water exits the reservoir?

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

    Agree with some comments already made. How come people got close to the Water supply? An act of Terrorism by poisoning the water is quite easy... This has to be certainly controlled. (Unless it was an employee of the Water Board !!!)

    June 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Nate

    How does one "make orange juice with that water?" Did they water an orange tree with it or something?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • minute maid

      It's called frozen, concentrated juice. You'll see it in your grocery store's frozen section. You add water to the frozen concentrate.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    Not sure which is worse...drinking one mans very diluted urine, or swimming in it at your local pool.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. HoosierDaddy

    Urine in the water will pale in comparison to what they find at the bottom when they drain it. Do you think an occasional snake, mouse, rat, etc hasn't taken a dip in this open pool and drowned? Sheesh, talk about gov't waste...draining the resevoir is about as useful as pi$$ing in the wind, pardon the analogy...

    June 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. somuchfor

    Urine isn't a problem–feces is. What a waste of money. I agree with the scientists above that it's going above and beyond reasonable behavior. Animals, birds, urine in the soil nearby–what makes human urine so special? Nothing. If the drinking water can't be exposed to the elements, including urination, then the water shouldn't be in a public area–it should be in hermetically sealed vats.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. crabman

    there s a street light out . oh my god quick change all the bulbs in the city quick before someone gets hurt. l m a o

    June 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Scribner

    This is silly. First of all, the media attention will have dozens of people lined up to do the same thing. Secondly, far more animal waste goes into all reservoirs (the one in the story included) than what one man could produce in one instance. How do you keep that out? Put diapers on birds and animals? Finally, this water does NOT go straight to the faucet. It is treated first!

    June 16, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I'm also thinking there could be times that ducks or other birds trying it out as a bird bath (it's happens all the time at my apartment pool)...what's keeping leaves, branches, other trash out of it?

      June 16, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    If that is their drinking water, then why on earth is there no sort of lid on top to keep random stuff from dropping in? I mean seriously Portland.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
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