The Big Flush: Fact or Myth?

You’ve heard of the Big Game, but how about the Big Flush?

Every year, more than 100 million viewers watch the Big Game — a third of the U.S. population. Did you know that during and after the game, so many viewers take a bathroom break it’s created something of an urban legend? As legend has it, the timing of more than 90 million simultaneous bathroom breaks during the Big Game puts the capabilities and limits of your city’s wastewater systems to the test. Is this phenomenon true, or just a myth? The New York Post reported a two-inch drop in the 30-foot deep Hillview Reservoir in Yonkers following the New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI victory in 2012. In 2017, Michigan officials politely asked Super Bowl LI viewers in Macomb County to limit flushing. They didn’t want to overwhelm a previously damaged sewer line.

Truth be told, the Big Flush is a myth. Your city’s wastewater system was designed to handle all the extra flushing that occurs during the Big Game or any major event. However, you’d be amazed at the pure magnitude of wastewater usage that takes place on that special Sunday. Here are the facts and figures behind how your city’s wastewater systems work during the Big Game:

A super rundown of the facts and figures about wastewater usage during the Big Flush.

Bringing it all together

The time spent in the restroom may be the end of the line for the Big Game viewer, but it is just the beginning for our nation’s wastewater treatment plants.

Thankfully, these facilities were designed with extra capabilities in order to handle wastewater spikes and phenomena like the Big Flush in mind.

Don’t hesitate to flush this myth away.

About the Expert

Mike Ostendorf

Mike Ostendorf, PE, is wastewater engineer who uses practical knowledge to help everyone better understand how our infrastructure works for them. Contact Mike




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