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. Grumpster

    I can only imagine the "yuck" that birds, worms, and other critters put in there, and pollution, or whatever else. Urine is sterile (unless you've got some infection-which chlorine will take care of)...and a good portion of that 16 ounces would evaporate anyway, leaving maybe a tiny trace of calcium behind. Whomever called for this to be drained should lose their job.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Cherries

      I'm kind of suprised that they don't already add cleaners to the water.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I do agree with most of what you said, but you are wrong about the sterility of urine. It is only sterile until it passes through the urethra, which is full of contagions.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      I'm glad people are thinking about this the same way as I am. The water is sitting there for the animal and birds and whatever other pollutants that are floating around in the air. But now they see that someone has urinated no more than 16 ounces of urine into 8 million gallons of water so now they are going to drain it?! That is crazy. There are brush fires, people with water restrictions, no water at all, 3rd world countries and homeless people here in the states that would happily and safely drink the water. Its like draining a pool every time a kid pees in it. The chlorine will kill it. What amazes me though is how if noone had seen the man urinate in the water they would have been none the wiser.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. Martin

    God must love stupid people. He made so many of them.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mildred

      I completely agree with you on that!

      June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • BLSinSF

      Doubly stupid in this case. The man who urinated in the reservoir, and the fool who decided to waste over $40k to drain the reservoir because of a little urine. Crazy

      June 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jeepers

    It's wide open to all sorts of bugs and animals and their droppings. I hope they clean it anyway before anyone can make orange juice out of it. I'm in Texas where we are on heavy water restrictions because of heat and drought conditions. Seems pretty wasteful to me.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. Al

    If i were the Mayor, the Water Administrator Mr. Schaff would no longer be drinking from the city trough. If the Mayor does not get rid of this idiot, then the Mayor should be recalled. I thought the Weiner incident was kind of stupid, this F___ing idiot is REALLY VERY IGNORANT. FIRE HIS A– IMMEDIATELY

    June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pancho

    This will certainly raise the sales of bottled water in those in the Portland area with too many dollars and not enough sense.

    That water will be tap water, slightly filtered and encased in plastic, the container eventually become part of the waste stream.

    I had an old buddy, former septugenarian, CP USA hod-carrier and triathlete Walt Stack who said he wouldn't drink water, because, after all, "Fish *(#* in it."

    June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff P.

      That was comedian W. C. Fields' line.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kant

    Must be nice to have that much water and that muct money. And they all the wackos are in California, we would love o have this water! How much rain, bird and animal poop and leaves drop in that chlorinated reservoir daily. Glad I don't live in that water distric!!

    June 16, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • JV

      Funny that you pass judgement on this when you are having a hard time putting a cohesive thought into words. Oh and yes please don't live here. We have enough "out of towners" as it is.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. fierybuddha

    Isn't urine sterile?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Only until it passes through the urethr, which is filthy.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. deuce

    why the hell do they not chlorinate it AFTER it leaves the reservoir? And if that is water we drink, why is kept in an open topped reservoir in the first place?

    I mean, why not clean it, then COVER IT? I don't want to drink water someone peed in, but I certainly don't want to drink water ducks and birds are sh_tting in, and sticks and branches are falling in to ferment, and the way it's set up now there's no protection against THAT.

    So freaking stupid. Common sense is becoming less and less common all the time.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Starnexus

    What an f-ing pig that guy was to urinate in a reservoir! I hope he gets caught and forced to pay for the disposal of that water instead of the tax payers. That being said, really Portland come on? If you were that sensitive why is this reservoir uncovered? This is obviously a political move you were trying to avoid a headline reading 'Portland delievers urine contaminated water into homes with babies' what a shame that peoples lack of knowledge and understanding of science have cost them 35,000 bucks just now.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    "I made orange juice with that water this morning." Who makes orange juice out of anything other than oranges?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Orange juice from concentrate is made with water. ;0)

      June 16, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tal

    As long as the guy isnt diseased or something, urine is basically sterile when it exits the body. A disgusting thought perhaps, but it wouldnt be an actual health risk even if they were drinking urine "straight from the tap".

    Random animal feces on the other hand....that crap could kill you.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      No, it gets contaminated in the urethra.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rum Dumb

    Dumb, Dumb and DUMB must be a bunch of eco freaks.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. erich2112x

    what's with this 'Urine is sterile' stuff? You want to drink urine cause it's sterile?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Tal

      The point is that it isnt a health risk. It illustrates how wastefully absurd it is to drain an entire reservoir when you point out that you could actually drink pure urine from a healthy person with a 0% chance of it making you sick.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • whatsupdoc

      I say let the idiots, i mean people drink it. If thats what they want....I'll take clean water please, since I'm paying for it...

      June 16, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • whatsupdoc

      @ Tal – I dont know where you got your facts from, but to say there is 0% chance of not getting sick from it is wrong. Everything can be a health risk, depends on the amount taken.... I hope people that read your post are a little bit smarter than to believe such comments....you SHOULD NOT drink urine, period. The only reason why you could if it was life saving measure to do such. This isnt the case.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. west texas girl

    This is a slap in the face to people who are praying for rain! This is a waste to tax payers money! Yes he should get a fine but this is a bit over board!

    June 16, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • whatsupdoc

      How is it a slap? Do you know anything about a reservoir system? What do you want them to do, bottle it? Ship it somewhere?? Next time, you can pay for the cost to ship 8 million gallons of water......idiot...

      June 16, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. whatsupdoc

    this is why i have a filter water system

    June 16, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
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