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. KC

    If they are just throwing this water away, they should take this water and transfer it to the jumbo jets that they are using to fight the fire out west.

    June 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JLPl

      I agree. They could hover a helicopter over the reservoir and suck the water out and then drop it on the fire.

      June 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • amanda

      they could hover in a helicopter and pee into it, too. or they could take the 30k, mash the bills, purify it, extract the ions, and add it to the reservoir. from a lab on the helicopter, that way they're close enough to just pour it in.

      just saying, your response is far too reasonable- a stupid situation like this obviously requires a stupid response, why else would it be news? =)

      June 19, 2011 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
    • PutUpWithNoSht

      you are stupid. everything cost a ton of money to do.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brad

    people swim in the ocean that gets peed in by millions upon millions of different animals every day. Municipal pools gets peed in or worse constantly and people still go swimming but apparently Portland is so untouched by this economy crisis that they are going to charge the taxpayers 30K to drain it. Pour a few capfuls of bleach in it and stop whining.

    June 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JLPl

    This is correctness at its most absurd.16 oz of urine in all of that water is nothing,and will be filtered more than once before it winds up in the faucet.

    June 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ep tor

      And what's worse, 99% of that 16oz is pure water!!! In fact, even dring pure urine won't harm you – which you are supposed to do if you are stuck somewhere with no water – like lost in a desert or adrift in the ocean.

      It's probably happened hundreds of times in the past – just the 1st time someine noticed.

      June 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • smasheduprr

      Um you aren't supposed to drink urine if you are stranded it will do nothing but dehydrate you more. Yeah, no one would probably get sick from drinking a small amount of urine in a huge resevoir but drinking urine when stranded in the desert would not be smart for other reasons

      June 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Roflmao

    Everybody go google "gau jal" – the soft drink made in India from cow pee (since 2009). Believe it or not.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Phil, Ohio

    This statement is what gets me ""The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," Leonard said."

    So its open to the air, the birds and other animals to use it or do what ever in it, yet you pipe it directly into homes?

    June 19, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. wcb2009

    Dont these people treat the resevoir water before drinking it? Of all the "stuff" in that water, pee would be the least of my worries. The person making the decisions is obvioulsy NOT educated on municipal water treatment processes.

    June 19, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. lee

    Don't birds fly over the water and poop in it all the time?

    June 19, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dre

    OBAMA IN 2012 ! ! !

    June 19, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    There is no debate here people should avoid peeing in any water source because it is not curtious. People should not drain a resevoir because they caught an idiot peeing in it. I have seen a heard of elk standing in a stream that runs directly into a resevoir that is where all animals go to get a drink and a good number of them poop and pee while standing in it. I guarantee the water goes through further filtration after leaving the resevoir so whoever said it is literally what the citizens are drinking is full of poop. The idiot that need in the water should not be held responsible for the cost associated with draining the resevoir the bigger idiot that had it drained is 100% at fault.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dre

    PALIN IN 2012 ! ! !

    June 19, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    We are so consumed by how stupid it was for them to drain the water for the reason of a man peeing in it. If we look past that we can see there is most likely a completely different reason for them draining the water supply and putting the blame on some guy urinating in it.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, if you're going to propose some silly conspiracy theory, you might as well tell us the whole yarn. You already look silly; not much to lose.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marion

    He's a reservoir dog.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. maninabubble

    What a pi22er! .00003 percent of reservoir....

    June 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ken C.

    Unless the corrective action of draining the reservoir includes cleaning it with a disinfectant, the action is a total waste of taxpayer money and should be deducted from the official's pay after which he/she should be fired for unsound judgement in their official capacity. Draining the reservoir won't even remove ALL the moisture affected unless this is some special reservoir that lacks the typical low lying ponding deflections in the bottom that won't drain completely. Yuck – YES. Waste money – NO. Scientific explanation that the contaminant is miniscule would have sufficed. Spending the money pushing the fence further outward from the water's edge would at least be productive in preventing further incidents.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. maninabubble

    Those complaining are the very ones who vacuum there floors every day. OCD

    June 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
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