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. Joe

    Terrorists: want to cause economic hardship to the US? Forget bombs – just pee in our water supply! Nevermind the fact that birds poop in it all day long, wildlife pees in it, etc

    June 16, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gene

    Bureaucrat David Shaff said:
    "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.’ ”

    Scientist David Stone said:
    "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."

    Okay, who's the sane one?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      They should remove the video cameras so something like this never happens again...

      June 16, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    I wanna go up there and pee in it after they fill it up again

    June 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Bruce

    Bill Murray has confirmed that the real object of concern was actually a candy bar...

    June 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Todd

    Which now means that a bunch of pranksters will now intentionally pee in that water and film it, just to pi$$ people off and force the city to spend money.

    Morons!

    June 16, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. steven phelps

    what a tragic waste of precious water. when will we ever learn to respect this vital resource? the comissioner should be fired.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. William

    I was going to hate on the dude, but then I thought how he seems to have nothing in this world... if I were his age again I might do something equally stupid. On top of that, why is our water supply so close to the fence that you can actually pee it it??? That is even more unbelievable. Why don't they place the fence ten feet away from the edge of the pool?!?!?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. bertha59

    What a waste of natural resouces and money. Isn't the water processed before it is used?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mark Roberrts

    Isn't pee sterile?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • RichieP

      Sterile only means that it doesn't contain microorganisms. It could contain toxins if the man had toxins in his system. Would you want alcohol in your drinking water?

      June 16, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Urine is sterile. Besides, the ppm of human urine is far less than the bird fecal matter and other pollutants settling in the pond. Apparently, rather than educate the piblic it is better behave like screeching Gibbons. Watchout, they might start throwing feces at each other and they will have drain the reservior again. The City of Portland is an embarrassment to all of Oregon.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. madd pooper

    I wannna put a cleaveland steamer in there...

    June 16, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. JB

    The offender should be made to pay for the clean up. Cost to us would be $0, it would punish the guilty, and it would deter other idiots. Problem solved.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. chris

    what a waste of money. How many frogs are swimming in it?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. water guy

    wait where is all this water going to go when they drian it? in the ground, and then pumped back into this resivor?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. jhorn10121

    My groundwater is pumped up from an aquifer that is recharged from rain and home waste water from septic systems. The layers of soil and compacted sands filter out most undesirable impurities. I love to tell my students that their toilet water is part of what replenishes their groundwater source. The water authority tests and treats only with lime and chlorine. Additional filtration can be applied for toxins such as volatiles. Testing the reservoir water should have been sufficient.
    I agree with the comment – spend the money on a better security barrier.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. dave

    Hey, thanks Portland and CNN: if them Mooslims want to kill us, now they know how. lol

    June 16, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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