Portland Decides to Use Pee Water as Experiment

Water Bureau ended up flushing no more than 3M of the 38M gallons

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2014 6:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – Portland's Water Bureau administrators sounded fairly adamant when they said some 38 million gallons of water would have to be flushed from one of the city's reservoirs after a teen was caught peeing in it, even though the water tested negative for contamination. They've since somewhat changed their minds. The bureau began draining Reservoir 5 shortly after the incident, but days later no more than 3 million gallons had reached the city's sewers. "The rate of draining Res 5 was slow and we wanted to get it back into service," said a spokeswoman by way of the Oregonian.

And so the decision was made to instead direct the 35 million gallons or so that remained to Reservoir 6, and as of last night, that task was completed, KGW reports. That reservoir was "valved off" in 2010 after the city determined it didn't need it. Now, it'll function as a sort of experiment to see if the city's reservoirs, which are in the process of being decommissioned following a government order that they be covered, can be kept as water features, or whether they'll become stagnant algae pools in short order. "We've decided to keep it there to see how long we can keep it clear,” said the spokeswoman yesterday; she says no decision has been made of the water's ultimate fate, and that Reservoir 5 has been refilled and is serving residents.

The Mount Tabor number 1 reservoir in Portland, Ore., is seen in a June 20, 2011 photo.
The Mount Tabor number 1 reservoir in Portland, Ore., is seen in a June 20, 2011 photo.   (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Benjamin Brink)
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