Dallas Swonger wants the world to just know one thing.
“I didn’t piss in the fucking water,” he says, pulling a drag off a Newport cigarette.
The Portland teen is in the hot seat after surveillance video supposedly captured him taking a leak in a city reservoir early Wednesday morning, prompting officials to flush 38 million gallons of drinking water down the drain.
For those more visually inclined, that’s enough H20 to fill about 57 Olympic-size swimming pools. Or 304 million tallboy cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
“Yeah, it’s fucking retarded dude,” Swonger says.
In an exclusive, expletive-filled interview with Vocativ outside his mother’s home Thursday, the 18-year-old insisted that his piss never trickled into Portland’s drinking supply. He also lamented the looming reality that this story will make him a national (and international) laughing stock.
“Everybody thinks it’s funny and a joke and I’m going to be on the news,” he says, flicking the cigarette butt into a nearby bush. “It’s no fuckin’ joke, dude. I don’t want people thinkin’ that Dallas is a dumb ass because he pissed in the fuckin’ water. In our drinking water. Yeah, that’s fucking awesome. I mean, wouldn’t you be pissed about that?”
The night that launched the whiz-seen-round-the-world had started off on a more feel-good note for Swonger. He says he had moved back to town that very day from St. Helens, which is 30 miles north of Portland, where he had been living with his dad. Eager to shred with some friends, he and two buddies went to skateboard at Mount Tabor Park after hours, which is home to three of the city’s five uncovered drinking water reservoirs – and a handful of excellent hill runs. After bombing down the park’s western slope, nature began to call Swonger. It was around 1 a.m. and the three friends, along with two other people they met in the park, were near one of the reservoirs.
“I was like, ‘Dudes I have to piss so bad,’” he says. “So I just went over to the wall [of the reservoir].”
“I leaned up against the wall and pissed on it,” he says. “Right there on the wall, dude. I don’t know else how to describe it.”
Water Bureau officials, however, insist Swonger took a leek in the drink. “When you see the video, he’s leaning right up because he has to get his little wee wee right up to the iron bars,” bureau administrator Davd Shaff told the Oregonian. “There’s really no doubt what he’s doing.”
Water Bureau security and Portland Police officers later stopped Swonger and his two friends, identified as Trey McDaniel and Daniel McDonald, and cited all three with trespassing. Swonger was also cited for public urination.
While human pee is not a health hazard – and scores of animals piss, shit and die in Mount Tabor’s reservoirs every year – the city says it will dump a total of 38 million gallons of water, even though test results on Thursday showed no signs of water contamination.
“Like, how they can do that?” says Swonger. “How can they be like, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna flush all that water.’ Dude, I’ve seen dead birds in there. During the summer time I’ve see hella dead animals in there. Like dead squirrels and shit. I mean, really, dude?”
Yes, really. In 2011, city officials flushed 7.8 million gallons of reservoir water from Mount Tabor after another man decided to unzip and rip. The Water Bureau also says that it intends to pursue additional charges against Swonger.
The whole ordeal has Swonger pretty rattled. “Dallas is really bummed out about all of it,” says his skateboard buddy McDonald, who we reached by phone on Thursday. “He’s a really good guy at heart. He just doesn’t make the best decisions. Honestly, he has the potential to do really good.”
As Swonger stood outside his family’s yellow, single-story house talking to a reporter, his mother suddenly opened the front door. “Dallas, don’t do anything stupid,” she says, ushering him indoors. She adds: “I’m sorry, he just graduated from high school. He’s trying to get his stuff together.”
Swonger stops at the front door and turns around. “Sorry, dude,” he says. “I don’t know, dude. I don’t know what’s going on.”