Shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, a 19-year-old in a hoodie and baggy jeans was captured on a grainy black-and-white surveillance video urinating into a reservoir that slakes the thirst of Portland, Ore.’s 600,000 or so residents. (Cue the disgusted “Ewwwwwwwws!” right here.)
But really, Portland Water Bureau officials, do you have to flush 38 million gallons of potable water for the sake of a cup or two of human urine? That’s how much the bladder comfortably holds, although the bladder in question obviously wasn’t comfortable.
We get the fact that Beervana prides itself on its water supply. The water bureau has a Facebook page, a YouTube presence and a Flickr site. You can follow it on Twitter (@portlandwater). It even has a bumper sticker: “I only drink tap water.”
Still, have a little pity on your neighbors to the south. Remember California? That big, dry behemoth snuggling up against Merrill, Malin and New Pine Creek? Home to the Garlic Capital of the World, the Broccoli Capital of the World, the Raisin Capital of the World and more crops than it can possibly irrigate without extensive intervention?
How do you think we feel, when we hear the whoosh of 38 million gallons going to waste? We’re in a drought, remember? Not good. No, not good at all.
But drain away is exactly what David Shaff, the water bureau’s administrator, plans to do. Water samples from Mt. Tabor Reservoir No. 5 were taken Wednesday for analysis. Results are due back today.
[Updated, 1:51 p.m. April 17: The water came back clean, a water board spokeswoman said.]
“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated,” Shaff said. “We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns.”
Criminal charges are being considered.
Or as the bureau tweeted, “Reservoir5 offline after man urinates in water. Health risk slight but we won’t purposely serve tainted H2O to public.”
And that public the water bureau wants to protect?
Some are not really buying it.
As one woman who knows her way around the natural world tweeted Thursday morning: “this is insane and unnecessary. 38 million gallons of (open) water already has bird/bat/rat poop!”