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. Gahdafi

    This guy is the most toxic guy in the world

    June 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      All us parents out there must be like omg are you serious? Pee is a fact of life and honestly the concentration of his pee in that water would be like hemopathic levels. Meanwhile we let our food companies ship veggies with EColi from feces to our local supermarket. Once again the human mind shows how biased and poor it is at risk assessment.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Max Headroom

    If the guys bladder was full – say 16 ounces – that means a concentration of .015 parts per million – which isn't even worth talking about. Plus it is sterile. The human kidney is an amazing filter....

    June 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tattoo

      If urine is sterile...why is it called waste? Would you prefer someone to urinate on your open wound, if there were better methods of treating it?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kim

    Don't they test the water over there, it can show if it is drinkable or not. and may be some treatments can be added too...just use your brains, don't waste the water!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KM

    Draining this was a waste of MONEY ,there is NO cover on this to protect the water from animals getting into this ...why isn't there any enclosed storage tanks ?

    June 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kevin

    Feminism and you men that support it (no matter what) have & will be the end of any common sense in this once intelligent and free country....

    June 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dant

      Feminism: The Radical notion that women are people too!

      June 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. civil engineer

    "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." Although this is not necessarily a false statement; it is a misleading one. The reason we use chlorine to disinfect water is because it has a residual effect. Also, unless the guy had some sort of urinary infection, urine is sterile. I don't think anyone likes the thought of drinking that water or knowing that birds defecate in it as well, but the city should not spread unnecessary fear. All they had to do was state the facts that there is still a residual disinfectant (chlorine) in the water and for a safe measure have a lab come out and test that the water still meets drinking standards. That would have only cost about a few hundred dollars at most and been more than sufficient.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • svann

      An open air reservoir does not meet drinking water standards. See the federal clean water act.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earthling

      Well then, Svann, I guess that means they should discard something like 95% of the drinking water in the country. And to extrapolate – doesn't that also imply that we shouldn't eat any fish that live in open water? They must be absolutely COVERED with contaminants, inside and out! Oh my God, how is it that we aren't all dead already??

      June 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • civil engineer

      I'm unaware of this regulation. Can you please inform me what page in the Clean Water Act that this is located?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Earthling

    Well I certainly hope that after they finish draining it they get in there and scrub it out good with soap and water, and fill it and drain it a couple of times to rinse it out.


    June 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • david from florida

      they must be morons in portland oregon. what an ignorant waste.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tattoo

      Urine that diluted poses no risk! In survival mode, you can even drink urine to stay alive! Yes the "yuck factor" exists, but disposing of this water is overkill.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lǎo húndàn

    Absolutely Crazy! It does point out how ridiculous we are getting. People have gone off the deep end in the world. We are a society of infants with absolutely no common sense any more. We are history...

    June 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tattoo

      And stay out of the ocean, the fish use it as a toilet. And who wants to swim with a big brown shark?

      June 16, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Herod Apyur Poupr

    The police officer is correct. If the man had simpl urinated on a Bush all would be well with the world.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • svann

      You could sell tickets and pay off the national debt.

      June 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Booyaka

    I'm going to take a dump in it as soon as they are done.... just sayin.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tattoo

      Just remember...you dump – they dump!

      June 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phil in Oregon

    If you feel you have been affected by this tainted water, call the law firm of Whiner, Wheedler, and Griper today!

    June 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. svann

    Fire this official then fire the guy that hired him.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eddie Stacker

    You can drink my yellow kool aid any time you want people....I have a long hose

    June 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Will Bill Murray be in charge of the draining with his "Caddyshack" protective suit on?


    June 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wasted water

    I havent drunk public pool water intentionally, but unavoidably everyone will get some of it into their mouth. This WAS a waste which will end up costing the water company's customers, because the water company wont be the one to eat (or drink) this cost.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
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