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A Teenager Ruined 38 Million Gallons Of Drinking Water By Peeing In A Reservoir

Portland water officials say they were forced to discard the water after a security camera caught the 19-year-old urinating in the reservoir.

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Portland water officials said they need to discard 38 million gallons of water after a 19-year-old man urinated in the reservoir on Wednesday at 1 a.m. PT.

A security camera caught the man peeing through an iron fence into Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 in southeastern Portland, according to the Portland Water Bureau.

Two other men, aged 18 and 19, then tried to jump over the fence and one of them entered the reservoir.

Officials caught all three men who were cited for trespassing while the 19-year-old was also cited for public urination. The police is reviewing the footage to determine if they can press additional charges. All three will not be permitted to return to Mount Tabor Park.

Water samples from the reservoir were taken for testing, and results will be available on Thursday.

Administrator David Shaff of the Portland Water Bureau said that while the health risk is slight, they wanted to "minimize public health concerns" and assure their customers that their water is "not deliberately tainted."

Due to the teen's urine, 38 million gallons will be drained into the sewage system and dumped into the Columbia river. One million gallons equals about 20,000 baths.

In 2011, it cost the water bureau $32,700 rate-payer dollars to discard 8 million gallons of water from the same reservoir after a 22-year-old man admitted to urinating in it.

Update — May 1, 10:55 a.m. ET: Turns out the reservoir may not get flushed after all, according to NBC News. The Portland Water Bureau says the water will be kept as an experiment to monitor a reservoir's water quality over time.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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