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. Dan

    They put an industrial waste product, and poison, FLUORIDE, in the drinking water, but a tiny tiny amount of sterile urine and now they waste $30k to drain it......idiots.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Skip

      Dan, Portland does not put fluoride in its water. One of the very few large municipalities to not do so.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      you are making me want to move to Portland! It is very hard to avoid fluoridated water!

      June 16, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Nomad

      Idiots none the less.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob U

      Idiots doesn't begin to describe them. This is the silliest thing I've read in a very long time.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      Dan, you've heart the public official saying that it's not about contamination of the water but about public perception. The Yuak! factor that they were addressing. You know, the things that are in our heads.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • CHARLEY60

      Skip some of the States in the North West have made putting floride in the water illegal. This comes up often and is lobbied against by the Dentist, for obvious reasons, with positive results. The old school thoughts are had to believe when you first move here. Idaho used a loop hole in the Federal OSHA laws, for instance, to exempt all the state cities, towns, and state workers from the law.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Albert Friday

    Don’t tell the Portland Water Bureau where the fish go to the bathroom. We may have to drain the Pacific Ocean.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sue

    people are pigs. if you have any doubt – look at some of the walmart people videos.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • NWA

      right back at ya

      June 16, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. BD70

    If they insist then make the man who urinated in it pay for the damages. Really...he must know people drink that water so it was an intentional act of criminal behavior. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • memchee

      agree,...seems the more logical step would be to make the guy pay for having to drain the reservoir.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Earthling

      I would agree if there was actually a risk factor associated with the action. However there was NO risk, so the decision to drain was not NECESSARY, it was done by choice. If there's anyone that should be forced to pay for it, it's the moron who made he decision to drain the reservoir.

      June 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. maria

    So why is the actual drinking water these people used chlorinated first and THEN exposed to the elements? I wouldn't set a an open pitcher of iced tea outside to keep it in reserve because a bird would crap in it. Why keep ready-to-use water stored outside and uncovered?

    June 16, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      Why store it uncovered? How else do you think the water enters your pipes? From the springs, streams, and rivers, all of which run uncovered. Besides, it's a major project to build covered tanks of these capacity. And the chlorinating before entering the reservoir is just for that reason – so that it would fight infection and algae before it builds up in the reservoir rather than on the exit when the water is already affected.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. eldono

    Isn't this water treated BEFORE it goes into the drinking supply? No? And, how did a person gain access to the reservoir? It's obviously a good thing this happened.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. Onewon

    Are you serious!!!

    June 16, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. wilbur

    All water on the planet has been processed thru the bladders of animals several times.
    Stupid prudish idiots. Idiots.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. skeptic

    Must be incredibly stupid to have $42,500 to waste. People survive on drinking their own urine. No wonder we are losing the edge to China.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Hmmm...

    They have that little confidence in their own treatment? The astronauts on the ISS drink their own reprocessed urine every day. If it's good enough for them it should be good enough for Portland.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Alessandro

    Why is the reservoir open-air in the 1st place?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      MOST reservoirs are open air. Did you think people would start building huge domes over them?

      June 16, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Alessandro

      Why not? If the olympic pools are inside why wouldn't the reservoir be as well. I'm not the expert in the matter – it just seems very illogical that the processed water is left there right before going into our taps... at the mercy of birds and random urinators....

      June 16, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jon

    The official who made the decision and ordered that draining should be fired. What an idiot.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Steve Bishop

    Yet another example of politicians trying to protect their jobs by trying to look like they're concerned and doing something.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jimbo

    Well if a guy can walk up and pee in the drinking water supply what is stopping someone from filling up a massive super sooker with lsd and squirting it into the water? The issue doesn't seem to be that someone urinated in the water and they had to empty it but that our water supply is so easily tampered with. Although I would enjoy a whole city full of freaks on acid, it is a scary thought.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Freshies

      Oh man, that would totally make my day today.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. svann

    Thats the stupidest water design I ever heard of. Having city drinking water exposed to passersby and birds and wind and whatever. Any sane city manager would have their water supply either in underground aquifers or purified or both. This is like 13th century water tech. Probably illegal by the clean water act. And what if a terrorist wanted to drop something in? It would be dead easy.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • RabiaDiluvio

      I am absolutely boggling at how little people seem to know about where their water comes from and how it is processed before it comes to the tap.

      This is not unusual. After the water is taken from the reservoir, it will be filtered, purified and treated. Animals occasionally die in reservoirs...or goo peepee or poopoo. This is to be expected and is generally not harmful as long as everything in the plant is working and carefully maintained.

      Do you really think everyone in the world has the option to take the water from underground aquifers? It may seem "13th century" to you, but this is how much of the western world gets water.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Alessandro

      Ok Rabia now let us "little people" ask you, the water reservoir is outside we got it, but can you answer how come any random person can come close and tamper with it? High level of security I see...

      June 16, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      Rabia, I believe the question is because of this statement: "The water that's in the reservoir that you see is literally the water that you drink," Leonard said.

      If it goes through a further purification and filtering process before it gets to your house, he didn't say that, which is confusing.

      June 16, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Alessandro Cant Read

      Alessandro, Rabia didn't call you "little people", he was emphasizing the amount you individuals understand where your water comes from. But now it's apparent your education is also lacking and that the tax money being spent on empting a resivoir should be spent on increasing your education.

      June 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
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