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. shorty

    I guess the Rabbits squirrels dogs and other critters in the area have all been put down so they can not to this nasty deed

    June 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      And there are probably fish and other aquatic life swimming in there too. When you consider that the water from a reservoir will go through a filtration system before it enters the mains.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRouble

      Typical idiotic overreaction. C'mon man!!!! Did Mike Tyson drain his pool after the first "Hangover"? I think not.

      June 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Invicta17

      I live in Portland, and I can tell you- I know this is a HUGE waste of money. But, if you looked into just how much money is wasted every day, month and year by our local government, you'd see this is totally in line. Portland is SO PC and 'progressive' that we're one of the 'greenest' cities in America, yet also 'saddest', 'least likely to have kids', 'most likely to traffic humans', and 'least racially diverse'. Oh, did I mention more strip clubs and bars per capita than anywhere in the US? Oh yeah- Portland really is the place, 'where young people go to retire', and it shows by the lack of wisdom.

      June 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. arvin

    Does that water sitting outside goes straight to homes like that. Yuck. Is it not supposed to be filtered and treated before sending it out.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • em

      i hate to break it to you, but unless you happen to live on a system that draws from a well or cave spring, all water sits outside. it's perfectly natural and perfectly safe.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • @EM

      Yes, but most of it is covered... or enclosed so people can't pee in it.

      June 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. djkiral


    June 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gmac

    I guess there are no fish in the water, and magically no insects since no fish. I love that "the yuck factor." Granted, the dude should have watered a bush as it would have been more productive, but come on! They should definitely replace the guy running this reservoir as he is a fish out of water.

    June 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alec

    A waste of money, time and resources for sure. I gaurantee that everyone from the city involved is saying the same thing. But you have to agree with why they did it. It's still cheaper than dealing with the moron that gets a lawyer and goes after the city to make a buck had they not disposed of the water. There was no winning outcome for the city of Portland. Getting tired of the small percentage of citizens who have more influence and do more damage to our society than all of the honest and accountable folk.

    June 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cathy Hasbrouck

    This is yet another example of how out of touch people are getting with reality. As already said, animals, birds, fish, etc all contribute to the water level in all reservoirs, rivers and streams. What keeps this from being washed into water ways. We are all one with nature. What a waste of money and time.

    June 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nancyvarcoe

    Doesn't $35,000 dollars wasted make any one of those progressive thinkers in Portland think "YUCK!"? I sure as hell hope so. I thought they were smart out there.....this should embarrass them to the nth degree.

    June 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rb11120

    how does one make orange juice with water?

    June 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThePhoenix

      frozen OJ from concentrate

      June 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wavejump1100

    what a colossal waste of money. there are so many better things to do with the cities money then this. sad very sad.

    June 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Greg

    This salient point here is not that someone peed in the drinking water, or that the city is spending money for something not motivated by scientific reasoning (which is, indeed, quite retarded). Note:

    '...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.'

    Thus we have water sitting outdoors, uncovered, exposed to anything nature or man cares to put into it, that will then become drinking water without further filtration/treatment? Do I have that right? So, what happens when a harmful (that is, really, honestly harmful – not merely 'eww, gross') agent is added through nature or man (intentional, perhaps terrorism?) that goes unnoticed by the surveillance? The salient point is that the security against actually harmful threats is clearly not adequate.

    June 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Simone

    In reality, unless the medical history of the person in question is known, it is possible that something very troubling could have gotten in to the water supply. Most urine is nearly sterile, but some folks with autoimmune conditions get protein in their urine, or blood that comes with other infections for that matter. It was almost certainly okay, but I think most people would agree that we're all "better safe than sorry". Many more people than have commented here would come out to accuse the WB of mismanagement if something had come of it.

    June 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Breakinout

    Sounds like the councilman who decided this action needs to pay for an Apartment for his Mistress or maby he needs to take a vacation or maby his kids need their tuition for school paid? A new car for his kid maby? I'm sure you get the drift

    June 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Judy

    I have a hard time believing that the water is treated BEFORE entering the reservoir and then left exposed to all the possible contaminants people have mentioned here without any further treatment.

    June 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

    Mental retardation is a growing concern among Portland water workers almost all of whom are mentally retarded. Will they drain it again when the next bird craps in it?

    June 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

    Perhaps we should drain the lake behind Hoover Dam. I have herd that fish may be copulating in it and that this could spread Fish STD's

    June 17, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
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