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40 Million Gallons of Drinking Water to be Flushed after Teen Urinates in Reservoir [VIDEO]

Apr 18, 2014 02:15 PM EDT
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The Portland Water Bureau in Oregon decided to flush about 40 million gallons of drinking water from its supply after a teenager was reportedly filmed urinating in a city reservoir.

The teen was part of a group of three found trespassing around Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Portland Water Bureau said in a statement. All three teens, ages 18-19, were "excluded" from Mt. Tabor Park on the grounds of trespassing and one count of public urination.

"Police will review the surveillance video to determine whether the men will be charged with a crime," the water bureau said.

Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaft said 38-million gallons of drinking water would be flushed from the reservoir.

The teen accused of public urination, who The Oregonian reports is 18-year-old Dallas Swonger, has claimed that he was urinating on a wall near the reservoir, rather than in the reservoir itself.

On Thursday water authorities in Portland reported that the reservoir tested clean of urine-related toxins, but the plan to flush the water is still in place, The Oregonian said.

From a pubic health standpoint, there is virtually no reason to drain the water, as the amount of urine that one man could deposit into a reservoir that can hold up to 50 million gallons, is insignificant.

"The urine, which has very few microorganisms to begin with, would be very, very, very, very diluted," Anna Harding, co-director of the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences at Oregon State University, told The Oregonian in a separate report.

Additionally, the open-air reservoir is a wide target for excrement falling from birds passing overhead and any other animal that makes its way into the water.

However, City Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the utility, said the city has plenty of water to spare and that dumping the water is the safest course.

"People can feel free to second guess, but this is not a debate," Fish told The Oregonian. "This is the best public health decision."

Debate or not, the situation has not stopped people from voicing their options over the decision to flush 38 million gallons of drinking water.

"It's extremely wasteful," Floy Jones, co-founder of the group Friends of the Reservoirs, told The Associated Press. Jones said there is no evidence that urine indeed reached the water or that it would hurt anyone if it did.

This is not the first time Portland has drained a reservoir. In 2011 the city drained a 28-million-liter reservoir, the AP reported.

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