38,000,000 gallons down the drain

A 19-year-old man was caught on security camera urinating in a Portland reservoir.  They flush it.

“Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated,”   the Administrator of the Portland Water Bureau was quoted as saying.  Other than this being in the range of 3-7 ppb not counting the actual non-water components and not counting the dilution of the remainder of the Portland water system.  Also, do they consider the fish/fowl/animals that use that water?  I wonder what they do with Western Canada Geese?  Depending on water source the water is filtered and water is disinfected before going into the system. They use chloramine.   I bet the waste water folks are thrilled at the prospect of 38M gallons of clean water going through their plants, although I suppose if you do it over enough time, the extra ultra low BOD hydraulic load won’t cause any trouble.

This is one of the sillier things I’ve seen and it’s not the first time they’ve done it.

File this one under Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.


15 responses to “38,000,000 gallons down the drain

  1. What do the reservoir managers think that the fish, birds, and occasional deer are doing to their water? Maybe they have diapers on all the wildlife to prevent ‘water soiling’.

  2. Hank de Carbonel

    Good thing they didn’t catch him at the beach.

  3. Any news story from Oregon that gives one pause can be best summed up by our previous state slogan “Oregon. Things are different here” the current on can also apply “Oregon. We love dreamers”

  4. to all those asking why they’d dump the water because a person peed in the reservoir, the answer is given by the administrator: “Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated,”

    See, the wildlife is doing it by accident, but this guy did it deliberately. It’s like the difference between natural CO2 (which is good and pure and doesn’t affect the weather in any adverse fashion) and man-made CO2, (which is evil and poisonous and causes the seas to boil).

  5. Actually, no, that much water at that low a BOD is almost certain to cause at least a small washout. The water authority could not have made a more polluting decision.

  6. The really bad part of all this is that reservoir workers now have to stop urinating in it too.
    BTW, could they not have let people know that they could fill their trucks and trailer tanks?
    And, since it is in the system, not charge anyone for water used to irrigate landscapes during the flushing process.

  7. They must be pretty silly over there in Oregon to dump 38 million gallons of water down the drain, just because someone was caught pissing in the water. Perhaps it something in the water that causes this sort of silliness!

  8. i would have thought from the reservoir the water goes through a purification system anyway.

  9. This should be the poster child for absolute, unbridled stupidity. What a huge waste. I have some suggestions for what to do with the administrator…..

  10. Friend of John Galt

    A few clarifications are in order.

    The reservoir serves already “treated” water to users. It only gets a cursory filtering as it leaves the reservoir.

    Portland is “under orders” (from some Federal agency or other) to cover their treated water reservoirs. Since there are many such reservoirs in the Portland water utility’s service area, it has required a multi-year plan to do the required work. Some of the reservoirs are odd shapes (as is this one) that further complicates the covering requirement.

    Wasteful it might be — but Portland is not suffering any shortage of water, though other parts of Oregon are considered to be undergoing a drought. I further note that this winter has been especially generous in snowfall in the immediate surrounding mountains, so the runoff can easily be collected to replace the “flush water” from this reservoir. The water surplus that Portland enjoys can not practically be shared with other drought-affected areas due to a lack of practical transportation (canals/pipelines).

    As for the suggestion that the water be used by homeowners to irrigate their plants, this time of year, Portland gets sufficient rain that few gardens need (or could tolerate) additional water. The Pacific Northwest gets rain in sufficient quantity for garden irrigation about 10 months of each year. Only the peak months of summer require supplemental watering.

    It might seem reasonable that a barrier be built that would prevent such easy contamination of the public water supply. A solid fence or high wall would have prevented this. While this situation is “minor” — it also makes it obvious that a more malignant tampering with water is possible.

    I’m glad that I live across the river from Portland and do not have to frequently deal with Oregon’s being “different.”

    • I’m not sure that having no water shortage justifies pumping out perfectly good water based on some irrational fear or fear of lawsuit. If I lived in an area with lots of water, would it be okay to leave my hose run so the water is always “fresh”?
      I definitely agree that the ease with which this little stunt occured should point out how vulnerable Portland’s water really is. That’s certainly more important than the waste of the water.

    • What sort of idiot keeps treated water in an uncovered reservoir? That’s unbridled stupidity! I didn’t consider that as a possibility since I don’t think that’s even legal in Texas.

      Also, the primary waste issue is the preliminary treatment works. It’s a huge energy waste if nothing else

  11. yolo

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