A reservoir in Portland, Ore., will flush 38 million gallons of treated water after one teenager decided to urinate in the city’s drinking supply. This is the second time since 2011 that Portland has had to dispose of its water because of an individual urinating in the supply. The water in the reservoir has already been treated and therefore would go directly to the customers. The teen that contaminated the water supply was cited for public urination; however, the 19-year-old’s name will not be released to the public.
Security cameras caught three young men trespassing at the Mount Tabor Reservoir No.5 around 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Two young men were seen attempting to climb the iron fence surrounding the reservoir as the third urinated into the reservoir. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to press criminal charges or not. Although the urine poses little risk, the city has enough water to meet demands and bureau administrator, David Shaff, decided to take initiative and not serve the tainted water to city residents.
“I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir,” Shaff explained to Yahoo News. The discarded water will be drained into the sewage system, pass through a treatment plant, and will be eventually flushed into the Columbia River. “The basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold, and constant water to its customers. And the premise behind that is we don’t have pee in it,” Shaff concluded.
In June 2011, Portland drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland after a 21-year-old man urinated in the water supply. He eventually pleaded guilty to the misuse of a reservoir and was sentenced to community service. The 2011 incident cost the city more than $36,000, and this year’s drainage of water could cost even more seeing as the amount of water to be drained will be almost five times greater than the previous drainage, The Washington Post reported.
Some criticize the decision to dump the reservoir, citing that there is no evidence that any urine reached the water and even if it did, it would not have harmed anyone. “It’s extremely wasteful,” Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, told Yahoo News. Urine is 95 percent water but also contains small quantities of nutrients, including calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It is highly sterile and is the byproduct of purified blood that is further filtered through the kidneys. Test samples of the water from the reservoir came back clean. Animals also commonly urinate without causing a public health crisis, but representatives feel that serving water that has been deliberately tainted is different.