It’s no secret that the Super Bowl is an event that transcends sports to engulf the worlds of advertising, music, and pop culture. It may surprise people to learn that the game is an annual focus for wastewater treatment operations as well.
“In the water world, it’s known as the ‘halftime flush,’” reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “People tend to rush to the restroom during the same times on Super Bowl Sunday: before the game, at halftime and when it’s over.”
The flush label may be a bit of a misnomer. The surge in wastewater flow can come from a combination of toilet flushing, sinks, or other things going down the drain. But this activity has very real implications for wastewater treatment plants.
The city of Henderson, NV, for example, prepares to treat 32 million gallons that day, up from its usual 21 million gallons. It saw 27 million gallons come in for 2016’s Super Bowl.
In North Las Vegas, the surge is even more concentrated. During a 10-minute window between 5 p.m. and 5:10 p.m., its wastewater treatment plant saw a 39 MGD flow, up from its usual 17 MGD flow.
Despite the Super Bowl increases, however, wastewater treatment plants are usually prepared and able to cope.
“Our system can handle a 50 MGD peak, so we have more than enough capacity to handle any Super Bowl demands, no matter how much snacking and drinking our residents and visitors do,” Delen Goldberg, a North Las Vegas spokesperson, told the Review-Journal.
And it’s not as if a Super Bowl flush actually happens throughout a service area instantaneously.
“Our folks anticipate that we’ll see an increase over a normal Sunday, but remember that there is time (hours) and distance (miles) that the wastewater travels to get to the plant,” according to Marty Flynn, from the water reclamation district in Clark County, NV, as reported by the Review-Journal. “So, even if everyone flushed at the same time, we’re not going to experience a geyser, or even a dramatic spike.”
Of all the special occasions that concern wastewater treatment plants, the Super Bowl pales in comparison to another American tradition.
“There is nothing special to prepare for different peak flushing times, officials said,” per the Review-Journal. “Although Super Bowl Sunday gets all the attention, many said Thanksgiving Day is when wastewater treatment plants see the highest peak flow numbers.”
Image credit: "NFL" Parker Anderson © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/