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. Tricia

    Hi Portland,

    It seems very silly to drain this reservoir because of 16 ounces of human urine.

    You really can't please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes, you just need to do the right thing.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      You know how many times I've peed and bathed in streams that start the NYC water way... I know you don't and you should be happy with your ignorance. We just love city people.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hugo

    While we are at it, just close the public swimming pools too... Everyone will need a water still so they can distill their drinking water.... Cripes. The water commissioner really ought to take a high school chemistry class....

    June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. PJ

    Upwards of $42,500 for the "yuck" factor?!!! Fire the idiot so I can have that job. One would HOPE that RAW, OPEN reservoir water would be filtered in any case, but I hear most folks in Oregon will drink almost anything anyway.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tree Hugger

    ONLY IN PORTLAND

    June 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Susan Anthony

    It is an overreaction. . .excessive and wasteful. I work with people in Kenya whose young children walk miles each day each way to bring a few buckets of water to their home. What a waste. Shame on you Oregon water bureau! Those tax dollars could be used for something worthwhile, like prenatal care for a poor mom or vaccinations for the children or upping a few teachers' salaries. I don't condone the person who peed in the pond, but please. . .it is a drop in the bucket. The only "yuck factor" is your wastefulness.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. MedicT

    This just proves how stupid we have become.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. killallthewhiteman

    Bear Grylls just purchased the 8 million gallons.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. MJW

    Who is dumb enough to store drinkable water in an open reservoir. It should be put in a closed system immediately after it's processed.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Student Engineer

    Using that logic, every public pool in america should be drained every 10 minutes. Seriously..

    June 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bird

    Bear Grylls will gladly drink it.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. big b

    Rather stupid.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. SN Sailor Jane

    this is why the N Aquifer sits under the Navajo Reservation. good luck

    June 16, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  13. scott

    It's Yucky what this govt admistrator does with our money. How did he get this job again?

    The "Yuck Factor" is an important part of the guidelines of water management. The "Idiot Factor" should be used to determine when we drain lthe govt of stupid administrators.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. EMcK

    So let's see, it's an 8 million gallon reservoir, that's 384,000,000 ounces. So if an average bladder is 16 oz., that would be (by my calculations) 41 parts per BILLION urine to plain water ratio.

    That's probably close to adding one drop from an eydropper to a hot tub.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Chopswell

      I'm playing devil's advocate here in saying that chances are the man had been drinking. When drinking, a bladder can hold more than 16oz. For the sake of a man needing to pee "really bad" and could conceivably hold 19 oz. of urine; your calculation is off somewhat. To be more specific: 41.00000000000000000009 ppb.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • EMcK

      LOL . . . I figured I could get away with rounding off that .00000000000000000009 :).

      June 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Chopswell

      😉

      June 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. klarg

    "While we are at it, just close the public swimming pools too... Everyone will need a water still so they can distill their drinking water.... Cripes. The water commissioner really ought to take a high school chemistry class...."

    Can't have that – those scientists would fill his head with ant-creationist propaganda.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
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