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Teen urinates in Oregon reservoir. Millions of gallons of drinking water wasted.

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Though California needs rain, not all of the American West is struggling with drought.

Portland, Ore., will discard 38 million gallons of drinking water after surveillance video showed a 19-year-old man urinating into a reservoir.

Here’s the announcement from The Portland Water Bureau:

The Portland Water Bureau provides the highest quality water, customer service and stewardship of our critical natural resource.

Just after 1 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2014, Portland Water Bureau security staff observed on camera three men at Mt. Tabor Reservoir Number 5 in Southeast Portland. A 19-year old man was filmed urinating through the iron fence into the reservoir. Minutes later, the two other men, ages 18 and 19, attempted to scale the fence, with one successfully entering the reservoir.

These actions forced the Water Bureau to immediately take the 50-million gallon Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 off-line and test for possible contamination.

A Portland Police Bureau officer and Portland Water Bureau ranger quickly responded. The three men were cited for trespassing, and one man for public urination. At this time, all three men have been excluded from Mt. Tabor Park. Police will review the surveillance video to determine whether the men will be charged with a crime.

David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau Administrator, reported that about 38-million gallons of drinking water will be discarded and replaced with fresh water from the Bull Run water supply.

Water quality test samples from the reservoir were taken early this morning, with test results due back by Thursday, April 17.

Shaff acknowledged the public health risk is slight, but says that the bureau will not serve purposely tainted drinking water to the public.

‘Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns,” said Shaff. “We will continue to provide our customers with safe, clean and cold Bull Run water.’

Video surveillance and reports written by the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Water Bureau will be submitted to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges.

This is not the first time a Mount Tabor reservoir has been infiltrated by No. 1.

In a post entitled “Portland reservoir urination raises few health or scientific concerns — but it is pee,” The Oregonian reported that a 21-year-old man’s reservoir micturation, also caught on tape, led the city to drain almost 8 million gallons of water in 2011.

The Oregonian reported the 2011 incident cost the city more than $36,000. Shaff told Reuters the cost of this incident would be “several thousand dollars” — though the amount of water drained is reportedly almost five times greater than in the 2011 incident.

In 2011, a health official told The Oregonian that citizens shouldn’t worry about wee-wee.

Dr. Gary Oxman — the Multnomah County health officer who advises officials on infectious diseases such as salmonella, hepatitis and H1N1 — said the average bladder holds 6 to 8 ounces of urine and would be vastly diluted in a reservoir.

“The health risk associated with that is really, really tiny,” he said. But because of concerns about the unknown objects, he did say draining the water is “an appropriate thing to do.”



Justin Wm. Moyer is a reporter for The Washington Post's Morning Mix. Follow him on Twitter: @justinwmmoyer.

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