(NaturalNews) As severe drought chokes much of California, sucking the water supply dry; up farther north, in Portland, Oregon, officials are draining around 38 million gallons of drinking water, as it all goes to waste.
38 million gallons of water drained after teenager pees into reservoir
The administration at the Portland Water Bureau decided to drain the reservoir after they caught a teenager peeing in the water on a security camera.
The 18-year-old man, Dallas Delynn, urinated through the reservoir's iron fence, tainting the water at Mt. Tabor Reservoir Number Five.
Bureau administrator David Shaff reviewed the tapes, had the water tested and decided to dump out the entire 38 million gallons instead of cleaning out the body fluid.
"Do you want to drink pee? No, you don't," said Shaff.
The total amount of water dumped is equivalent to 2.5 million toilet flushes which hold 1.5 gallons each!
Teenagers caught trespassing, climbing fence, contaminating drinking water
After a security camera alerted officials of motion, "A Portland Police Bureau officer and Portland Water Bureau ranger quickly responded," said bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti.
"These actions forced the water bureau to immediately take the 50-million-gallon Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 offline and test for possible contamination."
As they were goofing around, the 18-year-old prankster and his friends, Daniel McDonald and Trey McDaniel, tried to climb the fence; one of the teenagers entered the reservoir.
When the officers arrived, all three delinquents were caught and cited for trespassing; Delynn also received a ticket for public urination. Consequently, all of the jokers have been banned from Mt. Tabor Park for 30 days.
When police began reviewing surveillance footage, they mulled whether they could give out additional charges. None were filed.
Emptying the reservoir costs$175,000
After assessing water quality samples, bureau administrator Shaff decided to drain the entire reservoir. Can a cup of urine really contaminate 38 million gallons of water? Bureau administrator Shaff believed so and wanted to ensure the community that there are no contaminants in their drinking water.
"Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns," said Shaff. "The reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir."
While the public's mind is put at rest, many in the area see the 38-million-gallon dump as a significant waste, especially since animals typically taint the water anyway.
"It seems like a large price to pay for everybody," said one area resident.
The total cost of the water loss goes beyond $175,000, since residents pay approximately 1 cent for every two gallons they consume.
In defense of his decision to dump the water, Shaff said, "I think part of it is just that general yuck factor of, 'Yes, we have birds on there all the time but we don't have people peeing in it all the time.'"
Not the first peeing incident
It's hard to tell what all goes into the reservoir water. Animals can crawl in and die. Birds can let off droppings into the water. Why did a little pee prompt officials to dump the whole vat?
This wasn't the first time officials dumped an entire reservoir in Portland. Eight million gallons of water from Mt. Tabor's Reservoir Number One were dumped in 2011 after a 22-year-old man confessed to peeing in it. The cost of the dump was over $32,000, which pales in comparison to the recent, costly $175,000 dump.
While there is no drought in Portland, many further south in California would appreciate the 38 million gallons of drinking water.
It's likely that stricter laws will soon be put in motion to protect the reservoir water from future contaminators.