Portland administrators have agreed to flush away 38 million gallons of formerly clean drinking water from Mt. Tabor Reservoir after a Portland Water Bureau video camera caught a teenager urinating directly into the City of Roses’ drinking supply. The 19-year-old was apprehended and eventually given a citation for public urination, but the damage to the water supply is already done. The video caught the teen and some friends messing around doing typical teen stuff near the reservoir, but the highlight was when one teen stopped, leaned against the iron fence, hitched up his pants and decided to contaminate the water supply.
Water Bureau administrator David Shaff tells the Oregonian, “When you see the video… There’s really no doubt what he’s doing. It’s stupid. You can see the sign that says: ‘This is your drinking water. Don’t spit, throw, toss anything in it.’ He’s four feet away from that sign. Unless he’s from North Dakota and just moved here, he’s got to know that’s our drinking water.”
While there’s likely very little chance of a health risk due to a little urine, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish says flushing 38 million gallons of water away is the correct call. Some in PDX are sure to argue that the city is needlessly wasting water, but Fish is erring on the side of public health safety, noting “I didn’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. Frankly, it’s one of those calls where you know you’re likely to be criticized no matter what. It’s the conservative but correct call.”
Water Bureau officials aren’t sure how much it’s going to cost to dump the water, but costs will be high. Just three years ago the city ended up paying $35,000 to flush and clean another Mt. Tabor Reservoir after a 21-year-old man peed in it.