Officials drain Portland reservoir after man urinates in it

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland water officials are discarding 38 million gallons of drinking water after a 19-year-old was caught urinating into one of the city's reservoirs.

A security camera caught the man urinating at about 1 a.m. PT Wednesday through an iron fence into Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 in southeastern Portland, said Administrator David Shaff of the Portland Water Bureau. Minutes later, two other men, ages 18 and 19, attempted to scale the fence and one of them entered the reservoir.

The three men were caught, cited for trespassing and prohibited from returning to Mount Tabor Park. The 19-year-old also was cited for public urination. Their names and the reason for the incident were not immediately made available.

Police are reviewing surveillance video to determine if they should press additional charges.

"Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated," said Shaff while acknowledging that the health risk is slight. "We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns."

The open reservoirs hold water that already has been treated and goes directly into mains for distribution to customers. Mount Tabor No. 5 is one of five the city is in the process of replacing with underground storage to comply with federal regulations.

Water samples were taken from the reservoir later Wednesday, but test results won't be available until Thursday. The kidney-shaped reservoir, built in 1911, holds 50 million gallons.

It is drained for cleaning each spring and fall, and the spring draining was done about three weeks ago, the water bureau said.


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