A 21-year-old man was caught urinating into Portland's Mt. Tabor reservoir this morning, and the act caused panic.
The city dumped almost 8 million gallons of drinking water at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
Surveillance cameras caught the whole thing on camera, and police were called to the reservoir.
The police, however, did not arrest or charge the man. According to reports, the man thought the reservoir was a sewage plant. He could still face charges.
This is the fourth contamination incident in five years for the controversial reservoir, and each time it costs hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars to dump the water.
Each time the water is dumped, it costs as much as $36,000.
David Shaff is the administrator for the Water Bureau. He says they regularly find dead animals in the reservoir, but only human waste and disease has caused them to dump the contents in the past.
Reporters in Oregon asked Shaff why this was the case. He said, "Do you want to drink pee?"
One reporter pressed on, asking what damage a minuscule amount of human pee could do to almost 8 million gallons of otherwise perfectly fine drinking water. Shaff said it was a political decision.
Shaff says it has nothing to do with science. Instead, he says most people 'are gonna be pretty damn squeamish about that.'
The dumped water would have sold for a retail value of $28,500. The disposal fees are about $7,600.
Health officials say the urine poses little risk to the public. Animals often deposit waste in the water without creating a public health crisis or spurring the city to drain the system.
The Water Bureau officials still said they did not want to serve tainted water to customers.
Shaff said emptying the reservoir was a judgment call.
"Part of this is on me," he said. "It was my decision to empty the reservoir. There was not a legal requirement, there was no regulation."
Just last month, the Portland City Council approved an $80 million contract to build a new reservoir. They are hoping the current problems will be solved. It will close any open-air storage.
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