For the administrator of the Portland Water Bureau, the decision Wednesday to drain 7.8 million gallons of drinking water from a Mount Tabor reservoir comes down to six words: “Do you want to drink pee?” David Shaff asked. About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, water officials say, a 21-year-old Molalla man was caught on camera urinating in one of Portland’s uncovered reservoirs — one that provides water to a majority of Portlanders…. Chris Wanner, director of operations for the Water Bureau, said he was worried…. Even so, Portland’s five open reservoirs are susceptible to dead rodents, birds or bird poop. Water quality is tested, but reservoirs aren’t drained because of dead animals.
OK, so let me see if I have this straight…. One 21-year-old, brain-dead idjit with a nice buzz going and full of one too many microbrews mistakes one of Portland’s open-air reservoirs for a urinal…and the city spends $36,000 to drain eight million gallons of drinking water. Meanwhile, being that Portland has five open-air reservoirs, there are all manner of other debris present in them all the time- dead animals, leaves, braches, dirt- and the city sees no problem with that. How is that that someone depositing 6-8 fluid ounces of a fairly sterile liquid into a reservoir is cause for the Water Bureau going to Defcon 4, but dead animals (and probably the urine of live animals) is seen as no cause for alarm?
If you divide 6-8 ounces of urine into 8 million gallons of water, you get something that wouldn’t even seem to be worth consideration, much less a $36,000 freak-out. Of course, you don’t want people peeing in your water supply, but given what’s no doubt already in the water at any given time, 6-8 ounces of urine would seem to be the least of our problems.
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.”
A surveillance camera captured the incident. Once officials contacted the group, and after the 21-year-old was told he urinated in drinking water and his actions were disrespectful, he reportedly said, “I didn’t mean to show disrespect. I thought this was a sewage treatment plant.”
Sorry, dude, but if it was a sewage treatment plant, I think you would have been able to identify it by the distinctive smell emitted by virtually any sewage treatment plant.
I understand the argument that no one wants to drink pee. Then again, let’s revisit my argument: 6-8 fluid ounces into 8 MILLION gallons? Does anyone really think that any harm would come from some so widely dispersed? Especially when you consider the dead animals and various and assorted flotsam already in the water 24/7/365. Urine is not normally dangerous, and 6-8 fluid ounces of it shouldn’t be enough to warrant wasting 36 thousand taxpayer dollars in a time when every dollar government spends should be scrutinized. How many of y’all can say with absolute certainly that you’ve ever gone swimming in a pool that no one’s peed in? And yet you seem to have survived the experience.
Nice work, guys….