Though the story initially got a laugh, no one is chuckling about the fact that Josh Seater was able to waltz up to a 7.8M gallon, open-air reservoir in Portland and pee in it while drunk last month. The incident led officials to drain the entire basin, and also raised doubts about the safety of our water supply, the AP reports. Portland lays claim to five of approximately 30 such reservoirs in 12 cities around the country; they contain treated water that is piped directly to Americans' faucets.
After seeing how simple it was Seater to "infect" the water supply, fears that terrorists could just as easily dump chemical agents into our drinking water are bubbling up. But one expert notes that dilution helps protect us from getting sickened by bacteria and the like. Still, the EPA rolled out rules in 2006 designed to put an end to these open-air basins, in large part because of cryptosporidium, not terrorists. The parasite is found in the feces of infected people and animals, and got into Milwaukee's water supply in 1993, killing as many as 100. As for Seater, state prosecutors haven't decided whether to charge him. Portland has just finished scrubbing the walls of the drained reservoir.