Advertisement
This story is over 5 years old
News by VICE

Pissing Teen Prompts Portland to Dump 38m Gallons of Water

After a teen took a whiz in a reservoir, Portland will flush 38 million gallons.

by Olivia Becker
Apr 17 2014, 7:40pm

Photo via Flickr

Portland is planning to flush 38 million gallons of water from a reservoir after a teen peed in it Wednesday night.

The 50-million gallon Mount Tabor Reservoir, located in southeastern Portland, supplies the drinking water for much of the city. Although one teenager’s urine is unlikely to contaminate the entire drinking supply, Portland water officials did not want to risk it.

"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 David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau Administrator, in a statement Wednesday.

Police security cameras caught three teenage men sneaking over the fence into the reservoir shortly after 1 AM, early Wednesday. Footage shows one of the figures unzipping his pants and peeing into the water (starting about 2 minutes into the the video clip) for close to half a minute. Soon after, police cited all three men for trespassing, and one of them, a 19-year-old, also for public urination (not in the video).

“Even though there is very minimal public health risk, the bottom line is that our commitment is to serve water that’s clean, cold, and constant,” Shaff told a local Oregon newspaper. “That doesn’t include pee. Not from people, at least.”

Portland Water Bureau officials turned off the pipes that lead to and from the reservoir and ordered contamination tests on the water immediately after the incident.

Portland has previously been vigilant about protecting the public from pee. In 2011 a 21-year old peed into a reservoir in the same area, and, fearing contamination, water officials emptied only 7.8 million gallons of drinking water in response.

The process of flushing the water and cleaning up the reservoir three years ago cost the city more than $36,000, according to Shaff. It is not clear how much this latest incident will cost the city to flush the water, a process that will take four to six days.

Unlike other parts of the country such as California, Oregon is not experiencing a severe water shortage, which may explain the ease with which public officials flush out drinking water.

When asked about the unlikely health risks that come from a miniscule amount of pee in a vast reservoir of water, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish stood by the decision.

"It's the conservative but correct call," Fish told The Oregonian Newspaper. "We know we'll get criticized for this, but we have to put public health first."

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928

Photo via Flickr

Tagged:
VICE News
americas
Portland
Pee
Urine
public urination
reservoir
flushing
peeing
water conservation
water system