A man was caught on camera urinating in a reservoir in Mount Tabor City Park in Portland, Ore. around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. In response, the Portland Water Bureau decided to drain the 7.8 million-gallon open reservoir – one of the city’s water sources – at a cost of nearly $36,000.
There are three things that would make a person scratch their head at this. First off, urine is more or less chemically sterile and really no cause for concern, though of course, the thought of drinking someone else’s byproduct is not immediately appetizing. (Yet astronauts do it.)
Second, since the reservoir is open, birds and animals are free to do the same thing as this Oregonian did and likely do it every day.
Third, we know that the average person would encounter very little of this man’s wee. Let’s say the average person’s bladder holds 300 ml of liquid. The reservoir holds 30 million liters of water. That means the man’s wee accounts for one part in 100 million parts of the water.
If you account for the fact that 95 percent of urine is water, then that nasty (if you want to call it that) 5 percent ends up being 1 part in 2 billion parts of water - a tiny, tiny number. Though a little bit of his urine would be in every liter of water, it’s an insignificant amount. Not to mention, they chlorinate the water so any impurities (bird excrement, dead animals) that make their way into the open reservoir should be dealt with.
What a waste. (Pun intended?)