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. Maggie020267

    I think this is an over-reaction but at the same time I have to ask myself if I would want to drink the water.
    Isn't their someway to re-chlorinate the water?

    June 16, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Gadsden

      Chlorination only sterilizes water. Urine is sterile to start with. I still wouldn't want to drink someone's urine even if it was sterile and sterilized again. Things can still be gross and dangerous even if there are no live microbes present.

      June 16, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • publius enigma

      You drink urine whether you like it or not. Every drop of water on earth was someones urine at some point in time. Its all recycled.

      June 16, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Ricky

      Get a water filter.

      June 16, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • CHARLEY60

      Who told the media to start with? Did the water get dumped in a stream or where? It will be right back after being recycled by Mother Nature. Think of all the pee in public swimming pools that people end up drinking and being bathed in.

      June 17, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. cdogg

    I made lemonade with that water this morning and it tasted fine!

    June 16, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Usaywha?

    The person that came up with the idea to drain it should have to pay for it to be done, Then maybe it wouldnt seem like such a good idea.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    That is just rediculous. What a waste. Urine is completely sanitary. Not that I would want to drink urine but it won;t hurt you. Birds poop in all our water everyday and that can hurt you. We just deal with it. Just stupid.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Morris

    Is that why people from Portland have such white healthy teeth?

    June 16, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Karla Katz:
    I hate to admit this, but I do get out of the pool to do that.
    Not the ocean.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. AceRyder

    Hopefully the Urinator is paying.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. backstroke

    in other news, at least 300 ounces of urine has been deposited into the reservoir prior to the installation of cameras

    June 16, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. joe

    Also, why aren't they chlorinating when it's put in to the city water towers?

    June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris Wood

    Is the amount of urine introduced into the reservoir from one individual detectable? If the man who urinated is healthy, his urine is likely sterile. Who is running this show?

    June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ricky

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

    Or maybe, instead of overreacting to a non-issue, just let it be. Animals probably urinate in the water daily, so what is the difference with human urine? Where is the common sense in draining 8 million gallons of water because of 16 ounces of urine? Throw a little chlorine in the water, which probably is already treated with chemicals that almost instantly killed off any harmful bacteria anyway, and call it good. Its an open air reservoir anyway–there is probably much worse that lands in there carried by the wind or in rain water. There is just no common sense in government.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. TheGlow

    Initial reaction: "Open air reservoir, they made reference to the fact that animals have more than likely released their droppings in it. can't be that big a deal, they clean it later."

    After reading that the water sitting there IS post-treated: "So, they have no qualms drinking animal ****, but human urine is just icky?"

    June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. publius enigma

    You drink water that birds poop in? Seriously the water should be sanitized after it comes out of the reservoir not before it goes in.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • maria

      That's what I was thinking and what I just posted! Who treats the drinking water supply and then lets it sit out in the open?

      June 16, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    That's kinda like giving a whole city a golden shower.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. sponger

    Animals do more harm than humans to this water, big deal, get over it and just quit being so darn difficult, pesky liberals. What a waste of tax money, but not suprising.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      Pesky liberals? I'd wager the liberals followed the science, and recommended NOT draining it.
      Pesky conservatives....fear runs their lives, and they want it to run ours too.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • AndyB

      This really isn't a liberal/conservative issue. Try rational vs. irrational.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
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