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. Beastwhistle

    The yuck factor? Seriously? I didn't realize Portland's tax base consisted entirely of 13-year-old girls.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matt S.

    I hope none of you have EVER gone swimming in a public pool

    June 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      You noticed them girls standing there too, acting stupid .

      June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 3sides

    If people can get in there and urinate, what else could they do that's much more dangerous? hmmmm

    June 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • lg

      looks very accessible so I;d say animal excrement and decomposing bodies much more dangerous than a little urine

      June 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jack

    I demand they drain the ocean right now. I know i've gone in it many a time

    June 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. munkittrick

    For $7,500 in disposal fees, I'd "dispose" of this water one mouthful at a time. I'd hire a make-up artist to make me look like a fountain, then I'd stand in the middle of the reservoir with a hose running up my leg to siphon a mouthful at a time, then spit it down the side of the hill running away from this "puddle".


    June 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Alan

    Wow...that has got to be the stupidest thing I have heard in awhile...countless animals surely pee in the water, die in the water, copulate near the water, deliver solid waste to the water....it's ok...nature takes care of it.....the money could have been used elsewhere....the folks in charge should be fired

    June 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    This is beyond absurd. How many birds drop fecal matter in the retention pond while flying overhead? We should be removing whatever official decided to do this. The public didnt need to even know about this. Maybe we need to drain the Gulf of Mexico next time someone urinates in the water at Destin or Pensacola beaches.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nykkie

    For those of you who think the water should have been saved...how many of you actually live in Oregon? Would you drink it? Probably not, be a bit more realistic instead of self-righteous. Tree hugging is fine but don't be willingfully dull!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneLonelyVoice

      I drink water every day that has been urinated in by hundreds of animals and humans. Don't be naive. It's treated, and perfectly safe. Have you taken a science class in your life?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mbal

    Look at the mold and fungus growing all around the edge of the reservoir. It seems they can do a better job keeping it clean. Also, as others have already said, insects, birds, and other animals are probably bathing and pooping/urinating in this water on a regular basis. Other natural debris such as leaves, branches, and dust/dirt are likely to enter the supply as well. What a complete waste of resources.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gunny

    So, would they lick the brick walls that hold the water. That certainly looks a lot nastier.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      Would you drink water out of a puddle like a cowboy ?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. country bean

    What? Are you guys drinking public swimming pool water?!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John

    I've been studying reservoirs for years and have completed a thorough analysis of country's reservoirs and, because of terrorism, I'm genuinely frightened to reveal here what I know about it's unimaginable and inconceivable realities. When I finished presenting my report in front of just under 150 people from varying government agencies, I saw just under 150 sincerely concerned people with eyes the size of hens eggs. It's unthinkable how easy it is for any human being to fully adulterate a reservoir with one of the most deadly liquid substances on earth, thereby poisoning an entire city's population. Very few of them have monitoring systems that can detect any one of these substances, let alone all of them (including strychnine, cyanide, anthrax, among dozens of others). There are systems in place to remove natural waste from them, but virtually nothing more than that. I can assure you that a Brita water filter won't save you or your loved one from them. This unhinges and petrifies me infinitely more than virtually any potential terrorist attack, as it should most of you. If a man urinating in a reservoir causes such uproar (when urine is, in fact, perfectly okay to drink), imagine what would happen if someone with a 4oz bottle of deadly liquid pours it into a reservoir and people begin dying by the thousand within hours.

    The only way to combat this is to urge and plead to your local congressmen (or women) of this immense vulnerability and have them take legal action to combat this problem nationwide. If they don't, I can assure everyone reading this that the moment terrorists learn of this vulnerability, they will exploit it.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eric

    Wow this is dumb. This water is EXPOSED TO THE OPEN AIR. Which means bird poop can land in it. Bird poop actually is dangerous and can be full of disease. Human urine is usually sterile (unless the person has a bladder infection or something similar).

    June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rider Strong

    Good Lord! This depicts exactly whats wrong with society and why are country is running out of money!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. styymy

    Just send that moron the bill.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
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