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Thread: $140,000 public toilet freezes during storm in Portland, OR

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    Cool $140,000 public toilet freezes during storm in Portland, OR

    Portland's $140,000 public toilet freezes during storm

    04:08 PM PST on Sunday, January 4, 2009
    Portland's $140,000 public toilet freezes during storm | Local News | | News for Portland Oregon and SW Washington
    By Associated Press

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Just three weeks after the Portland Loo -- the city's $140,000 public toilet -- debuted, it froze up, stage-fright style, during the recent snowstorm.

    Its flushing mechanism turned stiff and the solar panels, caked with frozen snow and ice, left the battery weak. The battery not only keeps the lights on, but makes sure the pipes are warm and water is flowing.

    City officials spun the problems as an opportunity -- not a failure. It gave them a chance, said David Shaff, the Portland Water Bureau director, to assess the loo's performance and make the necessary changes.

    "This was not a bad thing," he said. "I'm looking forward to the next cold weather event, and we'll see how it does then."

    The frozen flushing mechanism was swapped out for a pneumatic one, housed in an insulated closet, safe from the next arctic chill.

    As for the frozen solar panels, Portland might have to rely on old-fashioned battery power the next time weather gets scary. "If we get snow again and don't or can't get the panels cleared off in enough time to keep the batteries charged, we will have some spare batteries and a charger," Shaff said.

    The loo, which has been knocked for its price tag, is the brainchild of Water Bureau Commissioner Randy Leonard. He envisions 10 others, built for about $25,000 apiece. He thinks the design could be sold to other cities

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    blech that had to have been gross.
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