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Portland reservoir: 38 million gallons, down the drain, after teen pees in water

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A Portland reservoir holding 38 million gallons of drinking water will be drained down to the last drop after a 19-year-old teenager was caught relieving himself in the city’s drinking water.

A report from The Associated Press Wednesday, as carried by MSN News, stated that Portland officials are preparing to flush the treated water because of the urinator, whose dastardly deed was caught on video. Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff said 38 million gallons will be discarded, even though the urine poses little health risk.

This is the second time that city officials have "pulled the plug" on sanitized water. Two years ago, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir for the same reason – pee in the pool, as it were. The open-air reservoirs, which are surrounded by fencing to supposedly keep people out, feed directly into the city’s mains for distribution to customers.

Shaff says the city has plenty of water on hand, and that the dumping of millions of gallons will not affect water supply to the city’s residents. Portland officials acknowledged that water samples, collected after the man’s public urination, came back safe, but they still do not want to deliver water that will be perceived as “tainted.”

Writes the Huffington Post:

The incident occurred shortly after 1 a.m., when Water Bureau security personnel noticed three men on camera at Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5. One was seen on video urinating through an iron fence, officials said. Minutes later, two other young men attempted to scale the fence. The three men, whose names have not been released, were cited for trespassing and excluded from Mount Tabor Park. A 19-year-old was cited for public urination.

Animals and birds regularly drink from the water and drop their waste into the water. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks and the like may be found dead at times in the water. But Shaff says human urine is different, at least by way of perception.

“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.”

Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, was critical of the city’s decision to once again waste countless millions of gallons of water over only a superficial harm.

“It's extremely wasteful,” Jones said.

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