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. superdave

    U guys drain ur water because of urine? U need to see what gas drilling Frack chemicals are doing to our water. It's killing our people with cancer and our wildlife.. Nobody cares about that,wonder why???? Paid off government and bigggggggg money...

    June 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shampoohorns

      I know it. But no one cares until it's in their backyard. Not sure if I've ever heard of any illnesses related to solar panels or wind turbines.

      June 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sick n tired

      I too live in an area that used to be beautiful & clean. Its in northern Pa, once one of the most beautiful places in the country. Now it stinks & the water cannot be used, but hey there are lots of jobs! So what if there is no drinkable water...your making money right! Once everyone finally realizes you can't eat money it will be too late.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. superdave

    I know what,i'll dump some frack water in ur reservoir. It's ok people it must be legal they do it here. Arkansas the land of corruption and payoffs.. Heck Tyson Foods dumps toxic waste in our lakes and streams and even the judges are paid off to allow it. Think it's a joke? Come to northwest Arkansas.

    June 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A.

    Northwest Arkansas is a joke.

    June 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mrs. M

    I'm very surprised to learn the water is chlorinated BEFORE it goes into the reservoir, and the reservoir water (standing water that naturally grows bacteria) isn't treated (purified) before it's used for drinking water. Forget about the guy urinating in the water. If that's a source for your drinking water you should be worried about all the bacteria that naturally multiplies every 20 minutes it sits there.

    June 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard J.

      It's chlorinated before going in to kill any bacteria in the water and to PREVENT the growth of new bacteria. Accompany that with the turnover rate of the water, bacteria doesn't have time to establish itself, let along get started in the first place.

      June 20, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Boater

      Filtered/chlorinated BEFORE going in the reservoir?!?!?!? I wonder what happens when birds fly over it.....

      June 20, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      ...or bugs fly into it, or lizards or some othert small creatures swim in it, or ...die in it

      There is no end to the natural elements that could access that water and leave something in it. People are pretty shortsighted.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leighsha93

      I agree... why would you chlorinate the water and then put it into an open resevoir? If you want to chlorinate it to act as a "purifier" why would you not then make sure it's completely sealed so nothing can contaminate your now clean water? Makes no sense at all!

      June 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shampoohorns

    Well, if you ever wanted to pee in that reservoir, I say now go for it!

    June 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oldboldgold

    Urine is not toxic, but chlorine is. Not like I want men to urinate into my drinking water, but get real, the water companies put worse in the water every day of the week! Our public drinking water is now so toxic that you cannot use it for tropical fish... even after allowing the chlorine to evaporate out for 24 hours! Fifty years ago, fish could live in that water.

    June 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jokester

      Um...WRONG. Urine IS toxic (poisonous). You probably meant that it is an antiseptic, meaning it kills germs. That is true when it is fresh, but it is still mildly poisonous to drink. However, 16 ounces of urine in a holding tank of millions of gallons of water is not even noticeable. As some other people have posted, I'd be much more worried about dead things rotting in the water...

      June 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Heywood Jablome

    Okay, here is a city administrator who is for once putting the people first–saying that it is unacceptable for any community member to have to drink urine laden water no matter how minuscule the amount. And in true form, the people complain.

    Now flip the script:

    The city does nothing about this man peeing in the reservoir because they know it won't cause any health issues. Again, the people complain and the video goes viral. All the bloggers and media make a big deal out of it saying how dare the city not do anything and allow this man's urine to permeate our bowels; anything short of 100% urine pure water is just not acceptable.

    It just goes to show that even when a government tries to do right by the people, the people will complain. For once–FOR ONCE–can't people just be happy without feeling the need to complain. Just because you have the right doesn't mean you need to always exercise it!! We need to learn when to speak and when to shut up.

    Good job Portland!!!!

    June 20, 2011 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
    • AndyB

      Its different people complaining each time, so that totally ruins your point.
      Also, they are wasting thousands of dollars to fix an insignificant problem.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. loel

    What also floats on water?
    A duck!

    June 20, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jessie Lee

    What if he was actually poisoning the water, pretending to be peeing. Sorry, but things have happened that no one believed could happen. I think it wasn't the yuk factor at all. Unless they are really stupid, a bit of pee would be of no consequence.

    June 20, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tami

    Really, who had a brain fart?

    June 20, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Observer

    Pssh, how many birds crap in the reservoir in a year?

    June 20, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. mardijohns

    That's ridiculous. Urine from a healthy bladder is sterile.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dutch

    Send the bill to the idiot. He's inconsiderate, rude, stupid and "fill in the blank". I don't mean just talk about billing him. Make him pay by payments, work, whatever. I don't care if it is over-reaction, it is still his fault.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lacey18

    Ummm there is a reservoir near my home outside of Boston, and dozens of Canadian geese poop all over it every day. It's totally disgusting, and I'd say way worse than a tiny bit of urine. Who knows, though?

    June 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jennifer

    I wonder what they do when birds land in it to crap??

    June 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
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