Reservoir to be flushed because of urinating teen

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm •  Published: April 17, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mix of 38 million gallons of treated water and one teen's urine has proven unacceptable to Portland officials who plan to flush away the whole lot — the second time in less than three years the city has gone to such lengths to keep its water pure.

In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland after a man urinated in the water supply. This time, water from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act of urinating.

"The basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold and constant water to its customers," bureau administrator David Shaff said Wednesday. "And the premise behind that is we don't have pee in it."

The open reservoirs hold water that has already been treated and goes directly into mains for distribution to customers.

Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti said Thursday that test samples of water taken from the reservoir came back clean.

Shaff knew the urine posed little risk — animals routinely deposit waste without creating a public health crisis — but said the city has plenty of water to meet demand and he didn't want to serve water that was deliberately tainted.

"There is at least a perceived difference from my perspective," Shaff said. "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."

The discarded water will be drained into the sewage system, eventually reaching a treatment plant before it's dumped into the Columbia River.