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. Brian

    Are they going to do this EVERY TIME someone pees in the water? You know people are going to start doing it again and again out of spite, revenge, for a laugh, to prove a point, etc. A gross overreaction, and money that could feed a lot of people. Tsk. Tsk.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Scientist

    Another reason every kid should have to take chemistry in high school. Pure stupidity and another waste of money. And for the idiot who mentioned AIDS, do your homework, the AIDS virus will only live at body temperature in a protected environment.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      If you were really a scientist then you wouldn't say viruses can live in any environment. Viruses are not living things, they are merely genetic material wrapped by a protein coat. They don't respirate, defecate, or have any form of locomotion. When we speak of "killing" viruses this really refers to destroying their protein coats.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vorsicht

    Hmm, the birds and animals that are peeing and pooping in it don't seem to upset anyone? Another over reaction that costs the taxpayers money. No wonder we as a nation are going broke.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. BWelter

    Anybody up for pole vaulting over a mouse turd???

    June 16, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jay

    I think most of the people commenting are forgetting the fact that it wasn't drained for health reasons it was for the "yuck factor". Yes a very stupid decision but it was purely for the piece of mind of people drinking the water. It's the same concept that if you order a hamburger and somebody spits on it. You probably won't taste a difference and it won't hurt you but if the person that made that hamburger told you they spit on it you would freak out. If anything this situation should have been kept quiet.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Spit on a burger is a lot closer of a ratio than 16 oz in 8 mil gallons. thats 64,000,000 to 1!

      June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mer

      1. Piece of mind = "I'm gonna give you a piece of my mind." Peace of mind = just to make myself feel better.
      2. Spitting your bacteria and germs directly on people or in their food is a felony. Peeing sterile urine into a pool is not. This is a shameful, inexcusable waste of money, and there is absolutely no logical reason for it.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kalster65

    Of course this is ridiculous. It's like drinking sweat, but diluted a billion times. It's a total waste of water. Although I do understand the "yuk" factor, much more pollution just floats down out of the air.

    But listen people, THIS is what concerns me: the easy access. Ok this idiot pees into the reservoir – no big deal. But if he could get that close, what's to stop a really BAD GUY from putting poison, deadly bacteria, radioactive materal from a disposed hospital radiotherapy machine...whatever – right into the water supply??? THAT's the real worry....the potential damage. How do we fence these things off??

    June 16, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      How many water water utilities are ther in the USA, whats it a secret ?

      June 16, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • DaveO

      Our water authority makes extra cash off granting access to area residents to hike, bike, or fish at the reservoir. I'm sure it's not the only agency in the country to do this. It actually helps ease security having people around that care about it. But, now think aboout this, the water in that reservoir is actually drained into it from the surround acres of wetlands. Any idea how many animals pee and poop all around it? Let's all grow up now, 'k?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jo

    Uhhh, ever heard of a cup of bleach? We put one in our cistern all the time. Geez.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nick

    And to think I can't even get my kids to flush the commode after they pee. I should hire these guys....

    June 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. bill liveley

    move the fence

    June 16, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. Leslye

    Another reason why we need a cover over the reservoir. This issue comes up regularly and is always shot down. The cost would be small compared to having drain it regularly.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. Gregory Pierce

    If that is the water you are literally drinking... maybe they should cover it.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lola

    That urine would have been so diluted it would have been harmless after the chlorine was added. People all over are developing massive psychological problems, and that is what we are talking about here. Whether they are throwing away perfectly good water or spraying neurologically damaging chemicals to kill annoying but harmless bugs. What a waste, especially when you have mothers in Africa giving their infants water out of a dirty puddle and there are places in the U.S. as well in dire need of water. Just shameful.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Morons

    I hope they're taking the bill out of the administrator's paycheck. He should see a psychologist about his "yuck factor" problem. Are they going to drain it every time a bird poops in it or dies in it? Every time it rains and dirt gets washed into it? Sounds to me like the water department doesn't have a handle on how to properly treat water, and they're hoping that the community won't notice the underlying problems if they overreact to this "yucky" but unimportant incident.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BS

    A deer bladder is the same size as a human's... if a deer had been caught on camera instead of a man, would they still drain it? How about some common sense (and maybe a little bleach for good measure)?!?!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. va

    I am mad that there are so many people that can't contain themselves in public. They should charge the guy that did it or at least put him/her on highway cleaning duty.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
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