Portland’s draining an entire reservoir because some dude peed in it

Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
Font Size:

Portland is about to flush 38 million gallons of treated water into the river because a teenager peed in a reservoir.

Early Wednesday morning, the teenager, 19, was caught on surveillance tape peeing through the fence surrounding the Mt. Tabor Reservoir, and two other teens were caught trying to climb the fence — one of them entered the reservoir. All three were cited for trespassing, and one for public urination, reports USA Today.

Environmentalists are obviously not happy with the potential waste of water. Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, said officials have no evidence any urine reached the water and it wouldn’t harm anyone if it did, according to USA Today. “It’s extremely wasteful,” she said.

David Shaff, Water Bureau Administrator, defended his decision, admitting health concerns are minimal but maintaining the “yuck” factor requires the reservoir to be drained. Shaff admitted birds fall in the reservoir “all the time,” but said a person peeing in it is different.

“The reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir,” said Shaff. Although he said if the area were in a drought, he would likely decide differently. “It’s easy to replace those 38 million gallons of water. We’re not in the arid Southwest,” said Shaff.

A 22-year-old urinated in the same reservoir in 2011, and the city dumped 8 million gallons then. That man was sentenced to community service and it cost the city $32,700 to drain the reservoir, reports USA Today.

It is drained for cleaning each spring and fall, and the spring draining was done about three weeks ago, the water bureau said.