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. Marion

    I hope this guy will be paying the money it costs to drain etc. The most expensive tiolet trip he ever had idiot.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Frank

    Why isn't CNN talking about Tom Ball? Tom Ball burned himself to death outside a court house in New Hampshire on June 15 to protest the American governments sick and twisted ways. He mailed a lengthy final statement to a local newspaper, you can find it on SentinelSource Dot Com, please at least read Tom's last words. CNN has no problem covering Arabs who self-immolate to protest their oppressive governments, but when it comes to the same thing at home, their cold, black heart really shines through.

    June 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • LP

      Sooooo, CNN should reward every crazy person with a big front-page story. Not likely. Even CNN isn't that low.

      June 18, 2011 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy Rant

      Tom Ball committed suicide because he was a nut case, we don't need him to light himself on fire for the rest of us to know that our government needs work, we know. Guess what, today our government still needs work and Tom Ball is just another mess for some Government workers to have to clean up, nothing more.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. mindy

    This is such a stupid move, about what can be expected from the government any more...don't think there are any that have a functioning brain cell.

    June 18, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. franke

    $28,000 really iam going in the water business

    June 18, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Urinator

    Because no one knows where this water will go. It could end up in being used in one of those 500$ dinners the guy who makes the decisions is going to eat. Some one very important could come into contact with .00001 micrograms (fake number) of urine in their mouth and they would never know unless they drain this thing. I used to produce pee along with other fluids with my friends at the local reservoir back in the day with my friends as did many other drunken teenagers.

    June 18, 2011 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Lot of birds crap in this water, not to mention the occasional other wildlife which drink from it, use the bathroom in it, and sometimes even die in this water. They probably don't empty it when they find the leaking remains of a dead squirrel floating in it.

      June 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pepsi Sales

    Animal waste is bonus flavor, our water is heavily poisoned with heavy metals, blood thinning lime, chlorine and amonia so the jokes on them! At least contaminates can get in anywhere else thanks to our impenetrable 100 year old water system that helps keep out things like motor oil and other chemicals seeping in the ground.

    June 18, 2011 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Will

    I've worked in the water treatment industry for over 10 years and even though I think this guy did do something wrong, the ultimate responsibility is on the owners of the reservoir. Why was this guy even able to get to water that has already been treated and is being delivered to the community? This water should be kept in a reservoir with a top on it that can't be contaminated. Open top reservoirs are a thing of the past. Now days we need to worry about vandals, terrorists and such.

    The community that owns this reservoir needs to seriously consider putting a cover over it. Most likely it's already been recommended, but the voters didn't want to spend the money.

    June 18, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy Rant

      Vary good point Will, I would have to agree!

      June 18, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • government_spy

      Post 911 (and I hate saying it that way, but there it is) isn't water reservoir security a serious issue? Granted, it was just urine, but it just as easily could be anthrax, or ricin or some other poisonous substance. Isn't this something that concerns national security? If I have to be patted down or x-rayed at the airport for the sake of security, why isn't drinking water protected like Fort Knox? I hate to be a Chicken Little and sound like I watch Faux news (which I don't), but this tells me how little we protect a very important resource, and how little the government has done in the interests of national security, other than what we call a "Show of Force."

      June 18, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • CentralOregon

      Excellent point. My mouth dropped seeing this open source of water for Portland.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. government_spy

    Post 911 (and I hate saying it that way, but there it is) isn't water reservoir security a serious issue? Granted, it was just urine, but it just as easily could be anthrax, or ricin or some other poisonous substance. Isn't this something that concerns national security? If I have to be patted down or x-rayed at the airport for the sake of security, why isn't drinking water protected like Fort Knox? I hate to be a Chicken Little and sound like I watch Faux news (which I don't), but this tells me how little we protect a very important resource, and how little the government has done in the interests of national security, other than what we call a "Show of Force."

    June 18, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. ibrad

    It just goes to show you all the airport security and most other security is just smoke and mirrors for our enjoyment. A water suppy that can/could kill 10,000 or more people easliy was wide open for anyone to walk up and put anything (poison) into.
    How long ago was 9/11 ? Yes,they sure have made America safe haven`t they?
    The only thing they have done is helped to secure the government and all the people working in it (at the top at least) & to secure all your private info for their computer files & storage.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Julibear

    Good Christ are you kidding me? In 50 years we'll all be drinking recycled pee anyway–they're already doing it in LA. This is an absurd waste of money. What about all the birds that crap in the water and runoff from rainstorms? People get a grip–we can't afford this kind of nonsense. Waste of water and money.

    June 18, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dee

    I've been living in Portland for 42 years, and I've seen a lot of people do stupid things here. They don't have common sense here. That's why the rest of the country thinks of us as a dumb hick town, when we're actually a big city. Why didn't the idiot find another place to pee?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. WildBill

    Live in a dessert for a few days (Nevada, Texas) and then try to explain throwing water away.
    Lots of water has worse things in it than pee. Most employees at water sites across america won't drink the water they provide and are responsible to check.
    Something far greater is at risk than a little pee.
    Silly

    June 18, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Peej

    So... shouldn't the people who are worried about the "yuck factor" have to pay the $40 grand? Or the numbnuts who peed in the drinking water?

    June 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ruth fassett

    that is SO sick make that person pay for it.not only money but also with jail time or 500 hrs.commminty-service.im so glad we have our own well.

    June 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dee

    @ ruth: I agree. People keep talking about the birds, etc., but I think a mature adult would choose a more appropriate place to pee. It doesn't matter whether or not the urine would contaminate the water. The reservior was the only place he could find to relieve himself? Have some decency and use some common sense.

    June 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
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