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Gee whiz: 8M gallons go down the drain

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Call it the big flush.

Because a 21-year-old man was caught on a security camera urinating into a city reservoir, Oregon's biggest city is sending 8 million gallons of treated drinking water down the drain.

Portland officials defended the decision yesterday, saying they didn't want to send city residents water laced, however infinitesimally, with urine.

Public health officials say, however, that urine is sterile in healthy people and that the urine in the reservoir was so diluted -- perhaps a half pint in millions of gallons -- that it posed little risk.

Some people in the city, in the suburbs and around the world called the flush an overreaction, especially since animals such as ducks contribute waste routinely and, sometimes, die in the water.

"More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have reliable access to clean drinking water, and here we are tossing away nearly 8 million gallons of water just to appease the ignorant residents who believe their tap water will otherwise turn yellow," read one comment posted on The Oregonian's website.

The young man, Josh Seater, said he'd been drinking, was with friends and thought the reservoir was a sewage treatment plant. He said he felt guilty instantly, and then security guards arrived. -- AP

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