Employee’s No. 1 problem is possible suspension after urinating in San Francisco reservoir

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PRIEST RESERVOIR, Calif. — If you’re going to work for the water department in San Francisco, you better learn how to hold it.

That’s what the city’s water utility advises after a manager was caught relieving himself into a reservoir that supplies water to millions of people.

Last month, employees with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission witnessed Martin Sanchez, a $111,000-a-year maintenance planner with the utility, urinate in the Priest Reservoir, said Tyrone Jue, a spokesman for the utilities commission.

The Priest Reservoir is a 674 million-gallon basin, located about 150 miles east of San Francisco, that provides water for 2.6 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. The water in the reservoir is untreated and disinfected with chlorine and ultraviolet light before it reaches customers.

There was no water in the reservoir at the time of Martin’s bathroom break — it had been drained for maintenance, Jue said — but that made no difference.

“There is no public health risk to be concerned about because the reservoir was not in use and the fact any water would have been treated anyway,” Jue said. “Still, his actions are completely unacceptable.”

Sanchez is facing disciplinary action from the utility, which could include several days of suspension without pay.

A West Coast thing?

San Francisco isn’t the only city that’s had to deal with this. In April, Portland, Ore., was forced to dump 38 million gallons of water from a reservoir after a teen urinated in it. A security camera captured the 19-year-old, with the help of two friends, climbing a fence surrounding the reservoir and, ahem, taking care of business.

The city decided to get rid of the water in the reservoir because it was slated to go directly to homes and there was no way to treat it. The teen and his two accomplices were cited by police.

As for Sanchez or any other employees in San Francisco who may be working around a reservoir and want to save themselves a trip to the restroom, Jue offers a warning.

“Come to work wearing your big boy pants or diapers. If not, you’ll need to find another place to work.”


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