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. Rum Dumb

    Water is the universal solvent.

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

      No, don't you realize that human pee is chemically different from normal animal pee? The toxins a human body exposes itself too every day via fast food and viral marketing are radically different from the healthy, natural anti-oxidants that give animals their strength and benign peaceful life!

      June 16, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. TXpresby

    So sad to see all of that water dumped because of a little urine when I live in the TX hill country in an extreme drought. What a waste!

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

      Agreed. I'm watching my cattle tanks and lake dry up more every day. I'd GLADLY take water that had been pee'd in.

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

      With what was spent for the deficit they could have diverted water from the Missouri to Texas and other areas out west, BUT WHAT FOR ?

      June 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  3. Yuck Factor?

    Unreal!!?!? They're concerned about the 'yuck fact' but don't seem concerned about the what animals or aquatic life is doing? Take a look at that picture. What do you think could be in the run-off coming down that incline? Maybe they should be more concerned about health and less about the 'yuck factor' and change their storage method.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Banderman

    These politicians can find more ways to waste tax money than Obama; almost.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Stetch

    Who makes orange juice with water? I mean if you're making it then you just squeeze the oranges...and most people just buy it in a container. Is that what most people are really going to be saying? Especially when there taxes go up or they cut some school funding to cover the cost?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      You can buy frozen concentrated orange juice which mixes with water.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Wendy31179

    Don't they have closed water towers?

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


    June 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. svann

    I think this guy has been peeing in the water for months and Portland must have been getting his 2nd hand cannabis.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. paul

    The really disturbing thing is that how easily accessible this water is...what about a nut or terrorist dumping something in there?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. Smarterst Human

    That's Oregon for you – catering to the ignorant.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. country bean

    If urine is STERILE like so many people say, then why is it YELLOW & STINK SO BAD??! It's cleaning out ones body, are you still gonna drink it? I don't care WHAT RELIGION OR CULTURE YOUR FROM, YOU'RE GROSS IF YOU DRINK THAT TOXIC MIX!!!

    June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • AndyB

      Lots of sterile things are yellow and stink bad. Bleach for example. Just because the chemicals that make something up are unpleasant or even toxic, doesn't mean its not sterile. (sterile means its not infected with bacteria or viruses). Urine does have low concentrations of toxins, which is why the body eliminates them, but unless they are very highly concentrated your body will filter them out again without harm.
      That being said, I'm not recommending people drink urine, I'm just saying that its harmless and that this shouldn't be a problem for this reservoir.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ballson Chinn

    That's one expensive slash!

    June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chris

    Be responsible for Gods sake. Stop pretending a double standard. That's a criminal waste of money to uphold the most prudish standards. You guys need a good healthy visit to a third world country to show you that there were plenty plenty ways of getting by in the world that didnt involve wasting peoples' taxes on polishing your water molecules like this. Dont be dirty .... that's ok. But this is hypocritical and ridiculous; dont pretend to be so clean beeyond scientific reality. So who's getting fired for this then?

    June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. golfpunk500

    That is a picture of the Washington Park Resevoir......

    June 16, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. You're Kidding Me?

    To Mr. Shaff – ya don't overreact much, do ya? What a moron.

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