Originally Posted by Andy H.
The issue is not so much contaminating creeks with microbes but the fact that urine is loaded with nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, etc.) which feed algae and other growth that foul creeks.
Also, there are different rules for different ecosystems. From what I understand, in arid Colorado and other dry environments, the rule is pee in the river, especially in high use areas, because there's not enough rain during the summer to flush the pee down into the soil and water table where bacteria should have a chance to degrade it. This keeps high use areas from stinking like urine.
Its my understanding that in more humid areas, one should go a certain distance away from the river. Maybe the BLM guys Waterwindpowderrock mentions above were from an area where that's the practice.
When in doubt, check with the local managing agency.
colorado is high altitude desert thats why you try to piss in the river. when you piss on the ground, the moisture evaporates but the smell lingers until it is well diluted from rains. so in high traffic areas the dirt dosent get enough moisture to dilute the smell. if you cant piss in the river piss on a tree or bush.
as for above tree line you should piss on the rocks because the animals get sodium from your piss and they tare up the tundra whitch takes centuries to recover.