Portland administrators became aware of the health risk after a security officer who monitors video cameras at the reservoir complex spotted the public urinator.
“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,” Water Bureau administrator David Shaff told the Oregonian. “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.”
The reservoir will be flushed over the next four to six days.
“Even though there is very minimal public health risk, the bottom line is that our commitment is to serve water that’s clean, cold and constant,” Shaff said. “That doesn’t include pee. Not from people, at least.”
It’s unclear how much the forced spring cleaning will cost the city.
"I didn't have a choice. I don't have the luxury of slicing it too thin when there's a potential risk, however small, to public health," said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. "Frankly, it's one of those calls where you know you're likely to be criticized no matter what. The professionals who report to me all said, 'Dump the water. Don't take any chances.' It's the conservative but correct call."
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