City flushes 8 million gallons after man taints its reservoir
ASSOCIATED PRESS PORTLAND, Ore.
— Call it the big flush.
Because a 21-year-old man was caught on a security camera urinating into a city reservoir, Oregon’s biggest city sent 8 million gallons of treated drinking water down the drain.
Portland officials defended the decision Monday, saying they didn’t want to send city residents water laced, however infinitesimally, with human urine.
Public health officials say, however, that urine is sterile in healthy people and that the urine in the reservoir was so diluted — perhaps a half pint in millions of gallons — that it posed little risk.
Some people in the city, in the suburbs and around the world called the flush an overreaction, especially since animals such as ducks contribute waste routinely and, sometimes, die in the water.
David Shaff, administrator of the city water bureau, said the flushed water is worth $28,000. The Mount Hood watershed that supplies the city is brimming this spring, he said, with 8 million gallons flowing through it about every half hour.
“If I lived in Texas, I might have had a different response,” he said.