One Man Urinated And Caused Draining of The Whole Reservoir

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One man’s potty break caused eight million gallons of purified water down the drain. Newspapers reported on June 21, 2011that the whole reservoir in the US city of Portland, Oregon was emptied after a man was caught on a security camera urinating in it. Was it an accident or a mad game?

Why was the reservoir drained?

BBC reported this urinating and evacuating incident stating that the 21-year-old man who was caught by the security cameras admitted that he felt “guilty” after urinating in the reservoir in a US city in the state of Oregon. The culprit named Josh Seater admitted to News Channel 8 that he was a little drunk when he decided to urinate in reservoir. He stated that he had been drinking with his friends and thought that the reservoir was a sewage treatment plant. He said he felt guilty instantly, and then only the security guards arrived.

The officials, who were shocked at this drastic incident when they found this out through the security camera, had to decide to take the drastic action of flushing down some eight million gallons of treated drinking water and empty the uncovered reservoir.  

The controversial issue

When the news spread far and wide, the whole city was facing a great question should such a vast amount of already purified water and was ready to go directly to homes had to be dumped.

David Shaff, a water bureau official in Oregon’s biggest city Portland, after flushing away 32 million liters of water, told the reporters, “Nobody wants to drink pee, and I don’t want to deal with the 100 people who would be unhappy that I’m serving them pee in their water.”

However, the newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” reported quoting some health experts that the incident would not have caused any harm to people, who are supplied drinking water from the reservoir, since the urine would have vastly diluted.

David Shaff, an administrator at the Portland Water Bureau, defended the decision to empty the lake, which is said to cost the taxpayers more than $36,000, saying, “It is not an overreaction. What you have to deal with here is the ‘yuck factor’ that may lead to further more serious troubles. Imagine how many people would be saying ‘I made orange juice with that water this morning’”. He accepted, however, that the reservoirs are drained twice a year for cleaning, and workers have found animal carcasses, paint cans, construction material, fireworks debris and even the plastic bags people use to scoop up after their dogs.

Portland officials had to decide so as they did not want to send city residents water laced with urine, although urine is sterile and it was so diluted that it posed little risk.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who is in charge of the water bureau, was more worried about potential public health risk, citing about the possibility of chlamydia or AIDS from blood in urine.

Was it an overreaction?

Some people in the city, as well as in the suburbs and around the world, called the flush an overreaction, especially since birds and animals such as ducks contribute waste routinely and, sometimes, die in the water.

One comment posted on The Oregonian’s Website said, “More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have reliable access to clean drinking water, and here we are tossing away nearly 8 million gallons of water just to appease the ignorant residents who believe their tap water will otherwise turn yellow.”

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Save water, please

Modern world is aware of the scarcity of potable water. Statistics state that worldwide, more than 900 million people lack reliable access to safe water that is free from disease and industrial waste and nearly forty percent of the world population does not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.  Water scarcity is growing all the more as the greatest public health crisis.


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