Open-air reservoirs are slowly becoming a thing of the past, judging from what Portland did to its thirty-eight million gallon reservoir of potable water after someone urinated in it.
The last time this happened, Portland’s reservoir of potable water only lost eight million gallons, at a cost of more than $30,000 to the city, all because someone urinated in the reservoir through the fence. That was two years ago. This year, someone’s gone and done it again, publicly urinating through the fence into a full reservoir of potable water. I guess the reservoir was full this time, since Portland’s water authority is going to drain some 143,845,647 liters, 38 million gallons, into the Columbia River, and who knows how much that’s going to cost the city.
The real question is, “Why?” According to WebMD, the typical capacity of the human bladder is 400 to 600 ml. So, even if the offending teen really had to relieve himself, it would have been diluted 239,742,747:1. So the reason given, even last time this happened, was not a public safety factor, after all, we’re all perfectly aware of what fish and birds do in that water, but the “yuck” factor. But that’s OK, because potable water is only one of the rarest resources on the planet, right?
So, 38 million gallons of water, plus diluted 239,742,747:1 yuck factor (is this science?) is worth dumping the whole thing? So, while a few hundred miles away, California reservoirs have gone bone dry, Portland dumps their potable water for a teenager’s call of the wild. In 2011, Water Bureau administrator David Shaff remarked, after draining eight million gallons for a similar incident, “The consensus appears to be that I am an idiot.” Indeed, Mr. Shaff, a few years later and you didn’t learn anything.
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