Eco-Stupid? Portland water supply cut off after man urinates in reservoir; Millions of gallons dumped

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Portland Oregon, water supply reservoir, wasted resources

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(NaturalNews) An open-air water reservoir that serves Portland, Oregon's roughly 500,000 residents was shut down and drained recently after a 21-year-old man was caught urinating in it. According to OregonLive.com, officials took the Mount Tabor reservoir offline and dumped its more than 7.8 million gallons of drinking water after officials observed the man relieving himself into its waters, an act that was later evidenced by video surveillance footage.

Though one man's urine is hardly a threat to the city's water supply, Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff decided to drain the reservoir anyway as a political move, and one that will cost taxpayers upwards of $40,000 to fully remediate. When asked about this strange decision, Shaff admitted that draining the reservoir has nothing to do with science but immediately conjured up images of people drinking pee so as to justify it.

Meanwhile, the man allegedly responsible for this act of urination is not being publicly identified, nor is he being arrested or charged with any crime. Officials have, however, confronted him about the incident, which he later admitted was "stupid" on his part. The man also confessed that he had no idea the reservoir was for drinking water, and instead thought it was a sewage treatment plant.

This is not the first instance where the Mt. Tabor reservoir was drained due to urination. As reported by the U.K.'s Daily Mail, a security camera caught 23-year-old Joshua Seater urinating in the reservoir back in 2011. Seater later pleaded guilty to misuse of the reservoir and was sentenced to community service for his careless act. Previous incidents at the reservoir involved an E. coli scare back in 2009 and a skinny dipping episode in 2008.

"Part of this is on me," admitted Shaff to reporters about the latest incident. "It was my decision to empty the reservoir. There was not a legal requirement; there was no regulation."

Are Portland officials intentionally creating drama with Mt. Tabor to push for $275 million reservoir replacement initiative?

While all this is going on, the Portland City Council is still pushing hard to build a $275 million reservoir replacement for Mt. Tabor and other open-air water reservoirs in the area, which would put the city in compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements for water reservoirs. But many local residents see the proposed replacement as unnecessary, since the federal government could easily grant Portland a waiver if it would simply request it.

"This is all a charade," wrote one commenter on a Willamette Week piece from back in May that discussed the city's push for the new reservoir to replace the old ones. "Your City Council is bought and paid for by the contractors who stand to gain millions, perhaps more, from the waterworks redesign contract," she adds, pointing other commenters to the Friends of the Reservoirs website.

To put it plainly, the city of Portland is basically trying to move forward with abandoning its historic reservoir system in favor of a costly water treatment redesign, which many locals insist serves no legitimate purpose other than to cater to special interests. This, of course, makes all the recent drama over one man urinating into one of the reservoirs in question highly suspect.

"This is a tempest and a solution seeking a problem," wrote another commenter at OregonLive.com. "Such waste in the names of political opportunism."

To learn more about the issue, and to help Portland protect its access to clean, affordable drinking water, visit: http://bullrunwaiver.org.

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