Portland Reservoir to be Drained of Millions of Gallons of Water After Teen Pees in Water

By Eric Zerkel
Published: April 17, 2014

Portland, Ore. water officials plan to drain millions of gallons of drinking water from a local reservoir after surveillance footage showed a teen peeing through the fence and into the water.

The surveillance footage above shows three teens just outside the gate surrounding the reservoir just after 1 a.m., Wednesday. Roughly two minutes into the footage, one of the teens can be seen urinating into the water. The identities of the teens have yet to be released, be all three were cited for trespassing. The 19-year-old caught peeing into the reservoir was also cited for public urination.

Water from the reservoir is already treated and goes straight to taps in homes. Even though the urine poses little-to-no risk to the drinking supply—indeed, the Associated Press points out animals routinely soil the reservoir—the Portland Water Bureau said it will drain 38 million gallons of water from the Mount Tabor Reservoir, which was shutdown shortly after the incident was discovered.

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

The water will be drained into the city's sewage system, pumped through a treatment plant and back out into the Columbia River, officials told NBC News

Floy Jones, co-founder of Friends of the Reservoirs called the bureau's decision to drain the reservoir "extremely wasteful," adding that the surveillance footage didn't provide definitive proof that urine even reached the water.

Regardless, Shaff said that draining the reservoir was a no brainer given the abundance of water from wet weather.

“I’ve got tons of water available that doesn’t have human pee in it, so I’m going to replace this,” Shaff told The Oregonian.

Indeed, according to meteorologist Chris Dolce, Portland has seen its fair share of rain the last couple of months.

"After seeing below-average precipitation to start the year in January, Portland was wetter-than-average in February and March," said Dolce. "March was very wet with 7.52 inches of rain, near double the monthly average of 3.68 inches."

Wednesday's decision wasn't the first time the Portland Water Bureau has drained a reservoir over public urination. Back in 2011, a 7.5 million gallon reservoir was emptied after a man was caught urinating in the water. That episode cost the city $35,000, the Oregonian reports, but it's not yet known how much draining and cleaning the reservoir will cost this time around.

MORE: The World's Clearest, Bluest Waters

The Cook Islands

The Cook Islands

The Cook Islands, a set of 15 islands in the heart of the South Pacific spread over an area the size of India, is known for its sparkling blue lagoons, white sand beaches and rugged mountainous interiors. (Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The Cook Islands
  • Cocos Island, Costa Rica
  • Knip Beach, Curacao
  • Five-Flower Lake, China
  • Maldives
  • Koh Lipe, Thailand
  • Jaco Island, East Timor
  • Marsa Matrouh, Egypt
  • Boracay, Philippines
  • Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
  • Los Roques, Venezuela
  • Lefkada, Greece
  • Cala Azzurra, Favignana, Sicily, Italy
  • Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
  • To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa
  • Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
  • Wineglass Bay, Australia
  • Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
  • Lampedusa, Italy
  • Pianosa Island, Italy
  • Ayia Napa, Cyprus
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Comino, Malta
  • Isla Holbox, Mexico
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • Tahiti
  • Peyto Lake, Canada
  • Hanauma Bay, Hawaii
  • Redang, Malaysia
  • Antipaxos, Greece
  • Moorea, French Polynesia
  • Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, Australia
  • Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
  • El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
  • Anguilla
  • Akumal Beach, Mexico
  • Barbados
  • San Blas, Panama
  • Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
  • Koh Kradan, Trang, Thailand
  • Hyams Beach, Australia
  • Torch Lake, Mich.
  • Ambergris Caye, Belize
  • Dimakya Island, Palawan, Philippines
  • Bora Bora
  • Gulf of Orosei, Sardinia, Italy
  • Culebra, Puerto Rico
  • Wakatobi, Indonesia
  • Bahia de las Aguilas, Dominican Republic

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