Following the Portland Water Bureau’s cringe-y announcement that it would flush 38 million gallons of drinking water from a city reservoir after a teenager (allegedly) decided that it would make for an excellent al fresco urinal at one in the morning, there’s been a drastic change of plans:

Instead of being further drained into the Columbia River via a drawn-out flushing process, the pee-tainted water that officials believe posed a “slight” risk to human health has now been transferred from the site of the offending tinkle, Mt. Tabor Park’s Reservoir 5, to neighboring Reservoir 6 for further observation.

The thing is, Mt. Tabor Park's aboveground reservoirs, which have no doubt been home to more dry heave-inducing things than a few ounces of teen pee over the years, are being phased out completely in 2015. The between 35 - 36 million gallons of water diverted from Reservoir 5 to dual-basin Reservoir 6 will be used to gauge how well the reservoirs work as “water features” (read: ponds) following their federally mandated retirement. Following the decommissioning of Mt. Tabor Park’s trio of historic aboveground reservoirs, new covered reservoirs will be brought online.

"We've decided to keep it there to see how long we can keep it clear,” explains Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti of the experimental test-run in which officials will look to see how long stagnant reservoir water can remain free of algae and other growth. And on the topic of keeping things clear, Reservoir 6 does not currently provide Portlanders with drinking water. According to, it's been sitting empty since 2010.

Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the world-famous pee water of Mt. Tabor Park won’t be flushed at some point following the observation period. But hey, at least the H2O, enough to fill 57 Olympic swimming pools, was given a second chance. And what happened to the couple of million gallons of water that wasn't transferred from reservoir to reservoir? Despite contamination tests coming back negetive, the Water Bureau had actually already started in on the flushing process before having a change of heart and opting to transfer the water.

Reservoir 5 has since completely been replenished and is once again providing Portland residents with urine-free drinking water.

As for Dallas Swonger, the delightful 18-year-old whiz kid who was caught by security cameras emptying his bladder through a fence and into/toward Reservoir 5, he’s still very much on the loose although he won’t be stepping into/peeing onto Mt. Tabor Park in the near future. Swonger also denies urinating directly into the reservoir and found the Water Bureau's "conservative but correct" plot to flush 38 millions of treated water to be rather ridiculous:

“Like, how they can do that? How can they be like, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna flush all that water.’ Dude, I’ve seen dead birds in there. During the summer time I’ve see hella dead animals in there. Like dead squirrels and s***. I mean, really, dude?”

Via [] via [Outside]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Portland reverses decision to dump 38 million gallons of pee-tainted drinking water
Fabulous news for those concerned about the fate of Portland's world-famous pee water: City officials are hanging onto it, at least for now.