2.6 million litres of water flows over Niagara Falls every second and this is what it can fill


Published February 27, 2023 at 4:33 pm

Tourists viewing Niagara Falls for the first time always marvel at one thing – the immensity of it all.

The amount of water flowing over Niagara Falls is staggering – 700,000 U.S. gallons or 2.6 million litres of water flow over the falls every second. Yes, every second.

Before you can even count to two, one million gallons have flowed over.

The thing is these numbers are exceptionally large and it’s tough for the mind to conceive exactly how much water that is. So let’s put that into context for items with which we are far more familiar.

Keep in mind, this is the total flow for all three falls – the Horseshoe Falls in Canada, as well as the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in New York. The Canadian falls alone represent 90 per cent of the total water falling.

It turns out that Olympic swimming pools have some pretty specific dimensions. They are 50 meters long, 25 meters wide, and 2 meters deep. In terms of volume, when full, these pools hold 2.5 million litres of water or about 660,000 gallons.

That means the flow over Niagara Falls could fill 1.06 Olympic-sized pools every second and would fill 64 pools every minute.

Okay, but that’s an Olympic pool. How about the one in the backyard? For example, if your swimming pool is 32 feet long, 16 feet wide, and four feet deep, that would equal about 15,360 gallons. Niagara Falls could fill 45.5 backyard pools every second.

If your town or city had 2,700 backyard pools, Niagara Falls would fill them all in a minute.

When filled to capacity (just below the overflow), a standard bathtub holds 42 gallons, but some water will be displaced when you get into the tub. So, the tub is rarely filled before taking a bath. But let’s use that 42-gallon mark, anyway.

Niagara Falls could fill 16,667 bathtubs every second.

Finally, let’s reverse this process with a brain teaser. Say Lake Ontario was completely empty and blocked off at the St. Lawrence River end. It’s bone-dry. How long would it take Niagara Falls to refill it?

Okay, there are an estimated 1.1 trillion gallons of water in Lake Ontario. That’s huge – 1,100 billion gallons. The exact number for scientists and water conservationists in the crowd is 1,101,117,130,711 gallons.

But remember, Niagara Falls has 7 million gallons flowing over the edge every 10 seconds.

It would take 1,574 million seconds or 26,233 minutes to fill Lake Ontario using only Niagara Falls. But what’s that in readily understandable numbers?

Well, that means it would take just over 437 hours or 18 days for Niagara Falls to fill Lake Ontario back up to the brim, starting from no water at all.

So the next time you’re in Niagara Falls and someone says to you, “Wow, that’s a lot of water. How much do you think it is?” your smart response would be, “I bet you $20 it could fill my bathtub over 16,000 times every second.”

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