Literally: Sh*t In Your Water

On Friday after leaving a client site I turned on NPR to hear a report and interview about a new water boil order for Portland. On Saturday morning restaurants around the area were both empty and awash with phone calls from potential customers asking where their water came from. This is the same water system which flushed thousands/millions of gallons of drinking water because of video surfacing showing a teenager urinating in one of the open air reservoirs. Hey, it’s fine to want to avoid water coming from a source that issued a boil order. If you want to panic though, panic for the right reasons.

Back home people from towns with wells used to tease people in Kankakee about drinking fish pee because their water came from the river. I mean, it is the truth. Does anyone honestly believe no fish exist in any of the open air reservoirs around Portland? Do they think the fish jump out of the water and run over behind a bush to do their business then jump back into the water? Do they think Canadian geese with their large ordinance hold it until they’ve crossed a body of drinking water?

In case you do not know, bodies of water eventually get fish in them even if no human stocks it. If you’ve ever had a pond of significant size dug and never stocked it you learned this fact of life on your own. For those who think it is an Internet myth, visit some of the nature mapping sites maintained by ag extension offices and universities such as this one:

One can assume the same is true for both furry animals and birds. If eggs can stick to bird legs and feathers they should stick just as well to animal fur when they jump in to cool off. I suspect the eggs just don’t travel as far with a four legged transportation method. It would be interesting to learn if some forms of fish eggs are like various seeds which can pass through a large grazing animal unharmed. The seeds are then deposited in a fresh pile of “fertilizer” to start their growth cycle.

At any rate, if one is concerned over this, they should be concerned for the right reason. Any municipality obtaining its drinking water from open air sources must have in place a water purification system which can remove all of this stuff. There is simply no way to reliably obtain surface water which doesn’t have some amount of urine and “fecal matter” in it. If your fish pee filtration system cannot take out human pee then just how much fish pee is it really removing? Something to think about when drinking your recommended 8 glasses of water per day.