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Portland, Ore., is dumping 38 million gallons of drinking water because of a urinating teenager

It took one teenager urinating in a reservoir for the city of Portland, Ore., to dump enough water to fill about 57 Olympic-size swimming pools, even though the water was deemed to be safe.

A 19-year-old man was spotted on camera urinating through a fence into the Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 in southeast Portland at 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Portland Water Bureau. In addition, another teenager he was with was able to climb the fence.

As a result, the bureau closed the reservoir (which can hold 50 million gallons of water) to test the water for any contamination. While test samples of the water came back clean  Thursday, the bureau will still dump 38 million gallons of drinking water.

“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated,” David Shaff, administrator of the bureau, said in a statement. “We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns.”

Portland’s water system delivers drinking water to about 935,000 people. There are five uncovered drinking water reservoirs in Portland, three of them at Mount Tabor Park. This particular reservoir is going to be disconnected at the end of 2015 due to an Environmental Protection Agency rule saying that drinking water had to be kept in covered reservoirs. All of Portland’s uncovered reservoirs will be discontinued by the end of 2020.

In 2011, the city had to dump about 7.8 million gallons of drinking water because — again — a man was spotted urinating in a Mount Tabor reservoir late at night. (At the time, Shaff told the Oregonian that his bureau regularly found dead animals in the drinking supply but didn’t dump the water. “This is different,” he said. “Do you want to drink pee?”)

This time, Portland is ditching 38 million gallons, which is roughly about as much water as a single tunnel delivering water to New York City leaks on a given day. Shaff told the Oregonian that the bureau has “tons of water available that doesn’t have human pee in it,” so this water dump won’t create a water shortage or anything.

You can watch a video of the guy allegedly urinating here:


Listen, we at Post Nation don’t like to tell people what to do. Your life is your life, be the blog you want to see in the world, et cetera. But here’ s a public service announcement for any teenagers out there reading this: Don’t urinate in reservoirs. I realize that every natural instinct in your body is telling you that you must urinate in the nearest reservoir. I realize that urinating in reservoirs is simply what everybody does in this day and age. But if there’s a reservoir — particularly if it is, say, a reservoir filled with drinking water — maybe fight those urges.

The teenager involved here was cited for public urination and three men overall were cited for trespassing.


Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and stories from around the country.



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Mark Berman · April 17, 2014

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