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Super 'bowl': The unsung heroes tackling your halftime bathroom breaks


Stashed in: Scatology, San Jose, Superbowl!

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Apparently the "halftime flush" really is a thing. But having the big game happening in your town is the ultimate test of your sewage treatment facilities. Good luck tomorrow, wastewater engineers!

300 miles of interconnected pipes!

With its relatively short distance away, Levi's Stadium has one of the shortest routes between flush and when the, ahem, waste, hits the fan, or the front line of treatment, clocking in at 30 minutes. Comparatively, a flush from the Almaden Valley in San Jose, about 20 miles away, takes between two and three hours to let gravity run it course and deliver it to treatment.

Once wastewater gets to the plant's entry point known as the headworks, huge mechanical arms move rotating bars that pull out solids like the baby wipes and other disposables that have been a bane to treatment plants the region over. It's skimmed for other solids, anything from grease and oils to other biological matter, much of which forms a sludge to be broken down by bacteria and bugs in the aforementioned digesters. The water is then aerated, clarified and filtered in a succession of gigantic tanks to ultimately remove 99 percent of impurities. The intensive process makes San Jose home to the state's largest tertiary treatment plant.

After 12 to 14 hours, about 90 percent of the treated wastewater goes into the bay, with the rest used as recycled water for irrigation, industrial use, and, to complete a circle of life of sorts, back to toilets and urinals and other non-potable water needs.

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