Portland has decided not to dump 35 million gallons of drinking water that has been tainted by human urine. Instead, the city will use the water as an experiment to see how long public drinking water should be kept before it becomes unsafe.
After a 19-year-old was caught urinating in Portland's public Reservoir 5 last month, city officials planned to drain the contaminated water into a local sewer system. Tests on the water showed that it was safe to drink. Still, officials ruled against serving the purposely tainted water to residents, calling it the "conservative but correct call."
“I don’t have a choice. I don’t have the luxury of slicing it too thin when there’s a potential risk, however small, to public health,” Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish told The Oregonian. However, recent heavy rains have slowed down the water’s dumping and have caused officials to come up with an alternative solution.
Residents were criticizing a nearby empty reservoir, stating they felt that the local scenery would be greatly improved if it were filled. Officials saw this as a great opportunity for the unfit drinking water. Rather than continue with the costly flushing, instead the water was diverted to the nearby empty reservoir, where it will be used to test how long water can be held before it becomes unsuitable for drinking. “We’re going to be monitoring it and see how long it stays fresh and clear,” Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti explained, as reported by The Huffington Post.
Although the move was more for aesthetic rather than economic reasons, it will most probably still please those who opposed the original dumping plan. The group Friends of the Reservoir had specifically voiced their opinion that the dumping would have been "extremely wasteful," especially since there was no evidence of the urine posing a threat to the public. Reservoir 5 has now been refilled with fresh uncontaminated water, which customers are now consuming, according to The Huffington Post.
Dallas Swonger, the teen who urinated in the reservoir, was caught after CCTV captured the moment. Swonger was cited for public urination and trespassing but claims his urine never touched the city’s water supply. “I didn’t piss in the f***ing water. I was like ‘Dudes I have to piss so bad.’ I leaned up against the wall and pissed on it,” Swonger explained to Vocativ.com. Water Bureu officials feel differently. “There’s really no doubt what he’s doing [in the video],” David Shaff, water bureau administrator, explained to The Oregonian.