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. bill

    A healthy bladder up to 18 oz? I drain a 32 when I get up in the morning. Am I sick or broken? If you drained every pool someone pee'd in would we ever have pools? You probably get more questionables in your fast food meal.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kenny

    Man is devolving to a level of stupidity matched only by that of Sarah Palin. Draining 8,000,000 gallons of water with a max. of 16 ounces of urine is one stupid goverment waste.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Robin


      June 16, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • nick

      Your ridiculous reference to Sarah Palin indicates that you have more than a passing familiarity with stupidity.

      June 16, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  3. jon

    I'm sorry but reading this article just reminds me of the scene in The Hangover where Zack Galifanikis is sitting next to Mike Tyson watching a tape of him peeing into Tyson's pool. No matter how often I see that scene I still laugh until I cry.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris Jensen

    This is hilarious. If they think this is unappealing then I hope they never find out where their food comes from.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. geoz

    how about spending the money on a fence?

    June 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. svann

    They say that people basically drink right from here but I think it has to be purified after. The federal clean water act requires a certain level of sterility that could never be met with an open air reservoir. I think he just said that to cover for his stupid mistake of draining it.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mike from Memphis

    Technically, we're all drinking water with "essence of dinosaur pee." Portland, you need to just get over it.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Me

    I couldn't believe this, If they are going to drain it ove3r that then it's going to be done very often because the guy even said birds and other animals do far worse in the water. One that urine hits all that water it will dilute and then its hit with the chlorine before people even get it in their homes, Personally if I was a resident there Id be highly upset over the wasted tax dollars because of a germaphob.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bobby Bristoe

    The poor people of Portland have elected an idiot to the commissioners office. That water is going to be treated before going to the tap and if it isn't then they are breaking public health laws. Is he over-ruling his health inspector or is the health inspector not involved or an idiot too. This is such a waste of money that the commissioner should have to re-emburse the city personally, out of his paycheck. The good people of Portland need to replace this dummy next election.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. Danny L. Shaw II

    As long as the person who peed has to pay for it, who cares!!!

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

      Concur wholeheartedly. I'd like to know if he was an employee. Looks like there is a solid fence around it!

      June 16, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    Ridiculous, people drink their own pee for Pete's sake. There might be a yuck factor but it's not worth the money or effort involved here.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Julie

    What a horrible waste of a natural resource. This is criminal! Someone should be fired purely on the basis of bad and "yuck factor" judgement! Are you kidding me. These are adults making these decisions. This makes me insane.
    And from the sounds of it, they didnt use divert the water for anything constructive. There are many other uses for water than drinking it. Besides, trust me, we've all ingested plenty of urine somehow at some point. In my opinion someone's wages or 401K should be garnished.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. civil engineer

    "Water bureau administrator David Shaff told KATU it's not about the science."

    This is NOT the guy I want running an operation that hinges on science and engineering.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. puprplepuppy

    If that is the water that is going right to the tap, then why is it not covered??????

    June 16, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Phil

    Urine is sterile in most cases anyway. Unless the guy has a bladder infection and the resevoir is kept at 98% you have nothing to worry about.

    How much of your meal today is bug parts, rat droppings or other allowed material? Quite alot really. We eat about 2 to 3 pounds of bug parts a year in our food.

    And the author is right – how much bird droppings, bugs and other contaminants are in this pond already – probably alot.

    June 16, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
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