Now that the Mount Tabor reservoirs no longer hold our drinking water, can we pee and/or swim in them? —Captain Billy
I understand that no-life policy wonks like you and me are aware of the news events on which your question is based, Captain. However, some of my readers have actually kissed somebody who wasn't their grandma, and others were only recently released from prison. For their sake, let's have some background.
In 2011, a teenaged yahoo urinated into one of the open-air reservoirs on Mount Tabor. With record droughts in neighboring California, this event made international headlines, especially when the city decided to drain the reservoir in question, "wasting" 38 million gallons of water.
Cities like Portland and Rochester, N.Y., fought this rule in court, hoping to save their historic and beloved outdoor reservoirs. (We even offered to post a sign reading, "We don't supply 191,000 commercial and residential ratepayers with water from your toilet—please don't pee in our first-line municipal water supply.")
But Portland's efforts were for naught. We had to build new, covered reservoirs, which recently went into full operation. The Mount Tabor reservoirs are being preserved as a historic heritage site, but they don't supply drinking water anymore.
But don't get any ideas. According to Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti, "The reservoirs do not meet the construction standards and code for public swimming pools or restroom facilities." (Everybody's a comedian.) You'd also need to climb the historic wrought-iron fences that still surround the reservoirs, which would constitute trespassing.
Remember, kids: The world is full of things no one is going to drink that you're still not allowed to pee in. Until you process that fact, no one is going to want you at their hot-tub party.