In the water world, it is widely known that a “Big Flush” happens at Super Bowl halftime. So goes the urban legend of water and wastewater treatment operators: a major spike in water use has traditionally occurred when people collectively rush to the toilet during halftime so as not to miss any crucial moments of an exciting game.
Past estimates show that on average, sustained beer consumption results in 1.4 billion trips to the bathroom causing toilets to flush away over 2 billion gallons of water. That’s the equivalent to 7 minutes of water flowing over Niagara Falls. On Super Bowl Sunday, the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland, OH tweeted with the #SewerBowl and sent out public service announcements to “Flush Responsibly” during the big game.
United Water’s Senior Director of Water Quality and Compliance, Keith Cartnick, spent his Super Bowl at the helm of the action as he monitored water use in real-time at the Meadowlands Stadium and surrounding East Rutherford, NJ. When we asked Keith about the “Big Flush” he revealed that water use patterns told the same story as commentators; the game was unexciting.
According to Cartnick, the data on the monitoring screens did not show a measurable spike during Super Bowl XLVIII halftime. This may be an anomaly due to Bruno Mars performance or perhaps the 22-0 lead that the Seahawks gained in the first half. Or – this may mark the start of an emerging trend. Some statisticians familiar with the water treatment cycle have suggested – in fact – that 58 percent of viewers now go to the bathroom during the game so as to not miss the commercials.