Portland pee in reservoir

Portland drained a reservoir at its Mount Tabor facility after a teen was seen peeing into it through an iron fence. (Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian/AP)

Portland, Ore., officials pulled the plug and dumped 144 million litres of treated water Thursday after a teenager was spotted peeing into city reservoir. 

Security cameras caught a 19-year-old peeing through an iron fence into one of the reservoirs at the Mount Tabor facility in southeast Portland.

"The basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold and constant water to its customers," bureau administrator David Shaff said Wednesday. "And the premise behind that is we don't have pee in it."

'The reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.'- Jaymee Cuti, Portland Water Bureau

Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti said Thursday that test samples of water taken from the reservoir came back clean.

Shaff knew the urine posed little risk — animals routinely deposit waste without creating a public health crisis — but said the city has plenty of water to meet demand and he didn't want to serve water that was deliberately tainted.

"There is at least a perceived difference from my perspective," Shaff said.

"I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir."

The discarded water will be drained into the sewage system, eventually reaching a treatment plant before it's dumped into the Columbia River.

Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, criticized the decision to drain the reservoir, saying there's no evidence any urine reached the water and it wouldn't harm anyone if it did.

"It's extremely wasteful," she said.

It’s the second time in less than three years Portland has been forced to drain a water reservoir. In June 2011, the city drained a 28 million litre reservoir, also at Mount Tabor, due to a man peeing in it.  

The teen perpetrator in the latest incident was cited for public urination.