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. Tualha

    This is really asinine. They are wasting $35,000 to make people feel better, and the only reason those people will feel better is because they've never thought about all the crud that naturally falls into an open reservoir anyway. Maybe activists should hold pee-ins until people come to their senses about this sort of thing.

    June 17, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Have to agree with u. they realy overacted. gezzzzz. wonder how many times someone has pee'd in there and didnt get caught?

      June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. OvernOut

    We've been to Mt. Tabor, it's a very cool park. My grandma-in-law used to live walking distance to the park. Last time we were there it was in August and in the middle of the day. All the restrooms were locked up tight, even though the park was filled with people, I'm sure it was the same deal for this guy. It looked to us like you were supposed to use the landscaping to relieve yourself, or leave the park.

    June 17, 2011 at 6:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sunny Day

    The Water Bureau is run by homeopaths. That minisccule amount of urine will wreak devastating homeopathic damage.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • ab

      Hilarious! Love it!

      June 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jason

    Hmmm, technically, the 'yuck' factor, as they say, is the only issue. Then again, the water is likely urine recycled a few thousand times over, anyway.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. nick

    Probably the stupidest, most ignorant, and offense thing I have read in a long time.


    June 17, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    Welcome to the water cycle. Corvallis and Albany residents drink treated Willamette water. Eugene's sewage is treated and discharged into the Willamette. I'm not positive, but I'd bet many of the Southern PDX suburbs are drawing drinking water from the river (after it has passed through kidneys in Eugene, Corvallis, Albany and Salem). All the freshwater on the planet has passed through some animals kidneys at some point. A huge chunk of US municipal water supplies are drawn from surface water sources downstream of another cities wastewater treatment plant. Unless your city is located close to the top of a mountain range, you're drinking recycled urine.

    June 17, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      While I agree with everything you say, you should probably avoid using the phrase "huge chunk" in this context, you are just making the yuck factor worse!

      June 17, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel

    Do they drain after all the wildlife defecate in it??? This happens everyday of the year. Guaranteed there are fish and invertebrates in the reservoir. What morons !!!! Again another instance of wasting our money. The people who said to drain it, should be the ones that pay for this. Yes this was stupid on the young man's part but it was more idiotic to drain this!!!

    June 17, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    Don't understand. we have 4 reservoirs around me supplying So. Calif. that are full of fish and wildlife that put more than urine into the water supply... What's different about this reservoir and the process that filters before it gets to the household tap?

    June 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evilqueen620

      The water in THIS reservoir gets filtered BEFORE it gets there. The water in yours may be filtered between the reservoir and your home.

      June 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    If you haven't seen the movie Idiocracy, you should. "It's got Electrolytes in it..."
    I always knew it wouldn't take anywhere close to several hundred years for the human gene pool to deteriorate to this point. Just look around you. It's pathetic.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bikerchk

    Why is the area open to the public? What would stop someone from pouring poison in the water? In the interest of public safety, no one should be allowed access to the reservoir. Close the area off or put a cover over the water. It's just common sense.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      exactly !!!!!!!!! very few public water supplies are protected. the one from my home time had a locked gate but all u gotta do is climb the gate or the fence to get in. We use to do it all the time to go swimming and have parties at night. And YES, i'm sure some or maybe all of us pee'd in the water a few times.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas

      And just how much poison would you need to have a lethal dose distributed in 8,000,000 gallons?

      Dilution is one of the safety features of reservoirs.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evilqueen620

      Very, very good point.

      June 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Omniskeptic

    "... had he chosen a bush." Jeb? George W?

    June 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      not that's funny ..rofl

      June 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      sorry Hit the wrong key Onmi... meant to put NOW THAT'S FUNNY... ROFL....

      June 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sarah

    This is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever hear of. Is the Water Bureau aware of the problems that we have on this planet regarding clean drinking water for people? I don't know about anyone else on here, but as a child I was told not to waste water, and while that may have in part been due to cost associated with water, it was more about the fact that we need to conserve where ever possible. I don't mean that we should not use the water that we need to use, but why dump 8 MILLION GALLONS of water that's perfectly fine and would have be treated before it gots to households?!?! If the people of this town really have such a serious problem with such a minor non-issue then they need to take a look around at the rest of the world and re-asses their priorities. Sorry but this is a pet peeve of mine and it just astounds me that anyone could be this wasteful in this day in age.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ann

    WOW !!!! the idiot that ordered the draining should pay for the charges. PPL pee'd in pools, and lakes all the time shoule they be drained every time? The guy who made this decision should be fired. evidently he's a dumb butt that over reacts to things possible costing the tax payers millions of dollars. Makes me wonder what other things he's over reacted to at the tax payers expense.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten

    I dropped a duce in there one and they did not drain it then??

    June 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    So they don't treat this water at all before it's sent out to their customers? I'm betting that they do. Cause if they don't ... well THAT is yuck.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
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