The Portland Water Bureau is flushing 38 million gallons of water from Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 after a 19-year-old man urinated in the city’s drinking supply.
The incident occurred shortly after 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, when the Water Bureau security noticed three men on camera at Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5. One was seen urinating through an iron fence, officials said.
“When you see the video, he’s leaning right up because he has to get his little wee wee right up to the iron bars. There’s really no doubt what he’s doing,” Bureau Administrator David Shaff said.
“It’s stupid. You can see the sign that says: ‘This is your drinking water. Don’t spit, throw, toss anything in it.’ He’s four feet away from that sign. Unless he’s from North Dakota and just moved here, he’s got to know that’s our drinking water.”
Minutes later, two other men attempted to climb the fence. One made it and may have stepped in the water. “If so, he discovered that it’s really, uncomfortably cold,” Shaff said. Then the men took pictures of themselves.
The three men, whose names have not been released, were cited for trespassing and excluded from Mount Tabor Park. A 19-year-old was cited for public urination.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to pursue criminal charges.
“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 off-line and test for possible contamination.”
“Even though there is very minimal public health risk, the basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold and constant water to its customers,” Shaff said Wednesday. “And the premise behind that is we don’t have pee in it.”
The open reservoirs hold water that has already been treated and goes directly into mains for distribution to customers for drinking water.
City officials estimated that flushing the water and cleaning up will cost $35,000. The current shutdown at Mt. Tabor won’t impact Portland water users, Shaff said.
“Right now we’ve got 100-plus million gallons of day free flowing down the river because the Bull Run reservoirs are as full as they can be,” he said. “I’ve got tons of water available that doesn’t have human pee in it, so I’m going to replace this.”
Surveillance video of man urinating in Mt. Tabor Reservoir in SE Portland
Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, 2014, the security officer who monitors video cameras at Mt. Tabor Reservoir complex in SE Portland spotted a man leaning against the iron fence at Reservoir 5, and, after a moment or two, hitching up his pants and pulling away from the bars.