Skip to main content

Hold the wee, please.

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.

[Mount Tabor Reservoir. Photo by Eaaumi.]

David Shaff, the bureau’s administrator, told Time magazine that the bureau decided to drain the reservoir out of concern that residents would avoid drinking tap water.

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?)

Comments

  1. Recommend you morons get rid of Mr. Shaff and the security camera.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know:
"What's going on in this video? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream.

(We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux)

Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?