90 Million People Flush Toilet During SuperBowl Half-Time

Status: Undetermined
According to Scott Tissue, during the halftime of the SuperBowl (or the Big Game as they call it, to avoid infringing on the NFL's trademark) "more than 350 million gallons of water will flush through our toilets as an estimated 90 million people use their facilities. That amount of flushing equals seven minutes of water flowing over the Niagara Falls." Actually, they admit that this is a legend, but they've created a website to cash in on the legend: halftimeflush.com. However, I don't know how they arrive at the figure of 350 million gallons. (I assume they're just making up the figure of 90 million people flushing the toilet.) I thought that the average toilet uses about 2 gallons per flush. In which case, the volume of water used would be closer to 180 million gallons... and so equivalent to only about 3 1/2 minutes of water flowing over Niagara Falls.

But where are they getting their facts about the volume of water flowing over Niagara? According to this site, 150,000 gallons per second flows over the American Falls, whereas 600,000 per second flows over the Canadian falls. So, assuming that they're talking about the Canadian falls, 350 million gallons of water flushed down the toilet would be equivalent to almost ten minutes of water flowing over Niagara.


Posted on Fri Jan 20, 2006


If you add the american and canadian falls, the time would be closer to 7 1/2 minutes
Posted by daniel  on  Fri Jan 20, 2006  at  06:45 PM
Obviously, Scott or somebody else just made up the whole thing, including the numbers.

Some of the most efficient toilets need only about 1 gallon of water to flush, but some old ones use as much as 7 gallons. So it's possible that the national average is almost 4 gallons per flush, which would be about 350 million gallons for 90 million flushes.

However, I think they made up the whole thing. How can you know who's flushing at half time? Call everybody on the phone and ask them? Half the people would think it's a crank call and hang up, so you still wouldn't know.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Fri Jan 20, 2006  at  07:02 PM
I heard that when the old BBC went to commercial every British person would flick on their electric tea kettles and entire sections of the power grid would fail simultaneously.

Which is probably an urban legend but it *sounds* so good.
Posted by Oberon  in  Utah  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  01:00 AM
The BBC has never run comercials.

During the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer there was a surge in demand for electricity.

Caused by kettles being turned on when they went off camera to sign bits of paper.
Posted by Peter  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  09:16 AM
Ise'nt "Scott" a kind of kitchen tissue/papertowel?
Posted by Lady Hedoniste  in  Chilling with 14 other tiny people in your head.  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  01:40 PM
Scott makes paper towels, and also toilet paper.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  02:25 PM
The amount of water going over Niagra falls varies by quite a bit. I don't have any figures at my fingertips, but much of the water is normally diverted for power generation before it gets to the falls. Late night through early morning -when few tourists are watching- most of it is diverted.
Posted by Bob  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  07:09 PM
our city water dept. monitors water use - half time of the big game shows the biggest spike of the year, year after year
Posted by dan  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  09:27 PM
The Eleven Cities Tour, a 120 mile skating event approx every other decade (it needs weeks of daytime freezing) starts at 06.00 in the morning. At 5.35 millions of households make coffee an turn on the telly, and at 05.55 4 million toilets flush. That was measured, not guesstimated.
Posted by Jerry S  on  Sun Jan 22, 2006  at  10:41 AM
The story about the english electrical grid is true, they have a special rapid-response power station to deal with spikes at half-time in football matches and other rapid surges in demand.
Posted by daniel  on  Sun Jan 22, 2006  at  05:32 PM
"...at 05.55 4 million toilets flush. That was measured, not guesstimated."

Measured how?
Surely all you could measure would be that a lot of water was being used. How do you know everybody wasn't taking showers, or washing clothes?
Posted by Big Gary  on  Mon Jan 23, 2006  at  03:50 PM
big Gary was close - he had the calulations correct. this was baesd real studies done by http://www.aquacraft.com. Also see http://www.epa.gov/watersense. trust me, i crunch the numbers
Posted by yep yep  on  Mon Jan 15, 2007  at  08:54 AM
canadian volumn is measured in liters
Posted by MONTY GENTRY  on  Sun Feb 03, 2008  at  09:17 PM
I hate the BBC down with london up with america
Posted by Max  on  Wed Jul 08, 2009  at  12:59 PM
Ahhh, my two favorite things - plumbing and sports. Do the stats increase each year? I love this kind of trivia!
Posted by Your Austin Plumber  on  Mon Dec 14, 2009  at  05:47 AM
I'm a <a >plumber Bakersfield</a>. Not that it takes one to know that nearly all toilets only use around 1 to 2 gallons of water when flushed. But I don't think they would have a hard time finding out who many people flush during the Half-Time show.

You would have to be pretty determine but my first thought would be to call all cities and find out how much water was used during that time frame.

hmm... If you had those stats you could come up with some pretty influential commercials.
Posted by Patrick  on  Fri Oct 08, 2010  at  04:44 PM
Haha, this is something I haven't ever thought about before. I will be staying in one of the hotels niagara falls has, but I won't be watching the superbowl this year.
Posted by Garfield Logan  on  Mon Aug 08, 2011  at  05:15 PM
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