Assuaging public concern by taking the piss

It seems that homeopathy is gaining adherents in Portland, USA: 38 million gallons of water had to be flushed from a reservoir after a guy took a leak in it:

The Portland Water Bureau there's little risk to the public's health but bureau administrator David Shaff says, "Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation."
Um, yes, but ability and requirement are not the same thing...

Now this wasn't as expensive as it could have been elsewhere in the country, e.g. neighbour California is in a drought and water is a precious resource there, whereas Portland is famous for its damp climate. Still, treating water costs actual money. Why did the Portland Water Bureau feel compelled to take this drastic action? A pint of urine in a 38M gallon reservoir would have been practically impossible to detect, let alone have any effect. You'd get more contamination every day from birds pooping.

It's all about perception, of course. Once it became known that someone had peed in the reservoir, if the PWB had done nothing then there would have been a popular outcry (fuelled by the press, who love a story like this; can you imagine the puns if the Sun wrote this up?) The PWB is merely pre-empting these protests, saving itself from the grief by expending someone else's money. Wouldn't you?

Mind, anyone in Portland who still drinks Budweiser or Coors wouldn't have much room to complain...

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