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.

Post by:
Filed under: Health • Oregon • Portland
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. standingwave

    Bear Whiz Bear-"It's in the water,that's why it's yellow."

    June 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bear in the woods

    Aw I do this all the time

    June 16, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gfg

    nasty bastar d

    June 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ta Da

    The big story here is not that the man peed in the water, but that this disgusting pit of water is drinking water! Who cares about the tiny bit of pee. This reservoir is foul - full of trash, polluted rain, bird poop, dead animals and who knows what. The people in this water district are lucky that this came to light. I hope my drinking water doesn't come from an open pit.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • adam

      Well, if it comes from anything called a reservoir, it does. That's basically what a reservoir is–an open pit. Sorry to burst your bubble there.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moop

      Don't let the open top fool you this reservoir is extremely clean and full of water that comes directly from an old growth watershed in the foothills of Mt. Hood. I've lived may places and Portland's water is the best tasting (or un-tasting) water I have had anywhere.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cricket

    This is, hands down, the dumbest thing I have ever read!
    And I thought the sanitation department in my town was bad....
    Portland makes my water department look like a Mensa convention!

    June 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. phil

    an open top container for drinking water? I'd be more concerned about that than a bum taking a whiz in it.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ohsnap

    Like other people haven't done this? Dumb, dumb, dumb and overkill.

    June 16, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. B=Dog

    Most of the water in the US is from open top containers - They only recently in the last 10-15 years started storing water in tanks.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gah

    if they find the guy who did it, he should pay the costs
    what a d-bag
    (yes, the water was gross BEFORE, but if he's the reason the city incurred those costs, pay up! the country is in debt enough)

    June 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nemo

      No, because what they're doing is irrational. He should pay only a small fine, comparable to what he'd get for public urination elsewhere.

      June 17, 2011 at 4:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Naked Bunny

    "if he's the reason the city incurred those costs"

    The reason the city incurred the cost is because David Shaff arbitrarily decided to drain the reservoir despite there being no hazard at all, going so far as to admit he had no reason to do so except a reflexive "yuck" moment, so I'd say it's his salary that you should be demanding. His only accomplishment with this stunt is to draw attention to the fact that people have for years been drinking out of what is essentially a gigantic chlorinated birdbath.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jason

    I just drank that water this morning–it wasn't bad. How many people and things do you think have peed into a reservoir? My old hometown got its drinking water from a lake that allowed boats, fishing, and swimming.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. bigger issue

    I think the bigger issue at hand will be the forcing of the filtration system we don't need. It's millions of tax payer money and they will be able to use this as 'yuck factor'... We will soon have outrageous water bills because of this. So the true cost of this stunt will be the filtration system plus the draining. let's garnish his wages..

    June 17, 2011 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  13. Alex

    Hindu yogis drink human pee with no ill effects. Pee is sterile when it leaves the bladder unlike poo which is rightfully a no no to ingest. Portland's water even with a bit of fresh pee is a lot cleaner than most recycled water that retains harmful pharmaceutical residue found in other water districts. Sadly, Portland rate payers pay some of the highest water bills in the nation even though it rains buckets there. Randy Leonard looks like a gangster with his black shirt and gold tie. What a goof. If they can't recall a mayor for poor bathroom habits, Leonard should not be concerned for his elected office if he let the pee run through the faucets. Portland is a SILLY town. I'd drink a gallon of any healthy person's pee for $30K no problem and I only go to yoga once a week!

    June 17, 2011 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Crocker

    Overreacting just a bit aren't they?

    June 17, 2011 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. cheeseroll

    You should have seen Singapore, where police found a corpse in a water tank recently. And the water tank contained potable water (i.e water that has already been treated for consumption).

    June 17, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34