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Bathroom breaks could wait during gold-medal match

Sami Siva/Sami Siva/ The Globe and Mail

He shoots, he scores, they flush.

To see just how intently people were watching the Olympic men's hockey gold-medal game, take a look at the sharp fluctuations of water consumption in Edmonton a week ago Sunday.

The city saw major spikes and drops in water use during the game: While the game was being played, water use dropped, but during intermissions and after the medal ceremony usage spiked as viewers turned on the taps or flushed, says Mike Gibbs, spokesman for EPCOR, the city's water supplier.

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"[During the]periods, consumption was very, very low, much lower than it is normally," he said. "It shows people are watching the game very intently."

A nation that plays together, flushes together too

When Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal, sealing the deal on Canada's gold medal glory, water demand reached a low of 320 ml per customer and stayed there during the medal ceremony. By comparison, water demand hovered above 400 ml per customer the day before.

After the medal ceremony, water use spiked drastically to 460 ml as spectators whet their whistles, relieved themselves or finally got to that load of laundry, Mr. Gibbs says.

EPCOR tracks water consumption during major sporting events, and saw a similar milestone pattern in the 2006 Stanley Cup final with the Edmonton Oilers, Mr. Gibbs says.

Similar utility surges were seen across the country during the Olympic gold medal game. Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator reported a 300 megawatt increase in power use just before the game started as people fired up their TVs.

Back in Edmonton, residents can't blame any future water shortages on the fluctuations in the big game. The spikes were too short to cause any damage or strain on the reservoir, says Mr. Gibbs.

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