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Flushed Away

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
Even the most devout hockey fans would have trouble holding it for 138 minutes.

As Game One of the Canucks first round series against Dallas stretched on and on, it seems few in the Lower Mainland were able to pry themselves away from their televisions.

Instead, not wanting to miss a minute of the action, most Canucks fans appear to have decided to wait until the intermissions to make a trip to the bathroom.

So many decided to wait until the end of a given period that by the time each intermission was finished, the Burnaby area had experienced a steep drop in water pressure.

As Utility Systems Control Superintendent with the Greater Vancouver Regional District, Rick Marchand says his department encounter this sort of thing all the time.

"We've historically always joked amongst ourselves in Utility Systems Operations that we know more actually than the Nielsen's ratings what people are watching!" Marchand says. "Although we always experience our regular daily demands for water, these are predictable. There is always a larger demand during big events."

Marchand explains that the drops in pressure are accompanied by an increase in flow, as a toilet will refill itself after every flush.

"When anyone flushes a toilet, the toilet tank gets automatically refilled. Each tank, depending on its age, ranges from 3 gallons to 5 gallons," he says. "So if you assume someone in every household that is watching the game takes a bathroom break between periods, that creates a tremendous draw from the supply water mains which results in a quick momentary pressure drop coupled with an increase in flow."

With that many households needing that much water at once, it would stand to reason that anyone washing dishes or having a shower at the time might be out of luck. Not so says Marchand.

"All water systems are designed to supply and react to demands such as fire flows which are much the same in nature, as they're both spur of the moment events," he says.

"The difference here is during a big event is that the demand is region wide and not localized like most fires. The individual house pressure regulator combined with the design and type of pipe plumbing in your house is usually responsible for any change in pressure felt within your house."

However, when asked which community can has the most fans watching the game and therefore, flushing the most, Marchand says it's difficult to tell.

"It's hard to pin point specific areas where these demands originate. It looks like Hockey fans are in every City and Municipality."

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