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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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News Release: Super Bowl fact check: Setting the record straight on the halftime toilet flush myth

(February 1, 2019) UPDATE - What was true for Super Bowl LI is true for Super Bowl LIII - find the truth on the half time toilet flush myth AND useful tips to keep your home plumbing clog-free every day.


(February 3, 2017) - Environmental Services is doing its part to debunk a longstanding Super Bowl urban myth about how city sewer systems manage halftime toilet flushes. 

What's the myth? We don't want to repeat a falsehood (you can view it here:  But we will remind the toilet-flushing public about the truth. There are two important questions that all Portlanders should have the answers to:

Q: If we all flush our toilets at halftime, can the City's wastewater treatment plant manage the flow? 

A: Absolutely. Every day Portland's Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant manages about 70 million gallons of wastewater from flushes, dishwashers, bath water and all the other activity from homes, businesses and industrial customers. The city’s treatment plant is staffed 24/7, including Super Bowl Sunday.

For us, the big game day is the same as any day. Halftime will barely be a blip in the normal daily flow and certainly nothing in comparison to the flow increase from winter storms. Those are big game days for us.

The City of Houston shouldn’t have any problems either, even with all of those visiting Patriots and Falcons fans.  According to the city of Houston’s website, its wastewater facilities manage an average of 225 million gallons per day but can double that capacity when needed.    

 Q: Can your home manage a halftime flush? 

A: As long as you’re mindful about what goes in the bowl. For Super Bowl Sunday and every day, Environmental Services strongly advises that you flush ONLY human waste and toilet paper. Nothing else should go down that drain. Tips for clog free toilets

If you use the toilet for trash, bad things can happen (sewage backups!). So please don’t use the toilet for cigarette butts, cotton balls, bandages and even ‘flushable’ wipes and diapers.  Foam fingers, chicken wing bones, and T-shirts prematurely printed with the wrong winning team are also not appropriate to flush.  What you flush matters to your pipes and to the city system that serves you.

Want to avoid bad things from happening? View our Don’t Flush This tips and video  

As for Sunday, enjoy the game and please know that our Environmental Services team works for you and a clean Willamette River every day. Enjoy halftime too. 


 The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration. @besportland

Media contact: Diane Dulken 503-823-6724