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You see water storage tanks high up on towers close to every town, so here are some of the questions asked about these familiar structures!

What is the purpose of a water tower?

Water towers are almost always used to provide a reliable supply of water to the residents or businesses served by the tower. They are also often used as part of a municipal water system, supplying high-pressure water for firefighting and to provide adequate pressure in order for the system to function properly.

Typically, they are constructed taller than other structures in a given area in order to pressurize the water supply.

Usually, a tower will be used as part of a larger pumping station system. In this case, the storage tank is connected to a pump, which pumps the collected water from wells or other ground level reservoirs into the storage tank. The force of gravity then allows for pressure to build within the tank, providing a constant supply of water when either household users or fire crews require it.

In certain cases, especially in small, rural areas where ground-based pumping is expensive and inefficient, a tank may be used by itself to provide water pressure for the immediate area. These tanks are often much smaller than towers (only a few meters tall) and do not have the same water-pressure capabilities.

In some cases, tanks may also be used as a reservoir from which to draw upon during periods of low demand or a lack of a constant supply, such as during a drought. In these cases, they are simply designed to hold large amounts of water until it is needed, and do not typically provide pressurized water.

In the past (and in some cases present), tanks may be used to supply municipal water-supply systems which were fed directly from sources such as rivers or lakes. In these cases, the height of the tower is usually selected to provide adequate pressure at points down river or on the coast.

How does water get into a water tower?

Water towers are usually filled with water directly from ground-level pumps.

How much does a typical water tower hold?

A typical tank holds between 1,000 and 2,500 cubic meters (250,000 to 637,500 gallons). Some large tanks can hold up to 7 million gallons of water.

What is the usual height of a water tank?

One story for every 7.6 meters (25 feet) of height is the general rule, though this varies widely depending on location and use case.

How much weight does a full water tower hold?

A full tower can weigh as much as 1,000 tons.

What are the different kinds of water towers?

The way that water tanks are constructed has evolved over time, but today there are two main design types: the elevated tank and the ground-supported tank.

An elevated storage tank , which is probably what most people think of when they hear "water tower". These are elevated above the ground on a variety of support structures. Note the height of the structure in the example to the right. This is a classic elevated tank, but many other styles have evolved over time.

Ground-level water storage tanks are almost exclusively used as part of a municipal water system because they do not need pumps to elevate the water. Water towers are an integral part of most communities' overall fire protection plan as they allow for a constant water pressure during an emergency such as a fire.

Why are water towers so tall?

Water towers are often very tall because they need to be taller than other structures in the area. This height creates a constant and adequate water pressure that is not dependent on finding equilibrium with pumps or municipal equipment.

Who takes care of water storage towers?

Water storage tanks are usually owned by the municipality in which they service. Municipalities often contract out for someone to maintain, inspect, and repair the tank periodically so that it continues to function properly. This is not always the case though, as there are instances where individual homes with their own private wells will have a water tower on their property.

How should a water storage tank and tower be designed?

Water storage tanks must be designed to withstand all the pressures created by the water within. Stresses on a tank can come from wind, temperature difference (water expands when heated), and pump operation. Tanks are typically designed with the following criteria in mind:

  • The water stored inside must be kept safe. Water towers are responsible for holding drinking-quality water, so it is crucial that they are not compromised at any point.
  • The tanks must be able to withstand the forces of nature. Wind and earthquakes can put significant pressure on a tank, especially if it's elevated above other structures or on top of an earthquake fault zone.
  • Water towers need to provide adequate water pressure at all points throughout its water distribution system.

What kind of structural support is needed for a water storage tower?

Ideally, tanks are built on firm foundation that provides for plenty of support (both vertically and horizontally) with no chance of failure under regular use. Sometimes the foundation is an integral part of the tank production or installation, but other times it will be a separate structure that is built later on.

How is a water storage tank constructed??

Building a water storage tank can be a large undertaking, but it's not unusual for multiple members of the community to participate in its construction. Fabrication typically happens off-site and is then transported to the installation site where it is assembled using cranes. Once the tank is finished it can be filled with water to test for leaks before being placed into service.

The main parts of a water storage tower include the legs and foundation, the steel or concrete shell, and the interior equipment that distributes water. The steel or concrete shell has specific requirements depending on what kind of liquid will be stored but is generally between 30 and 70 feet in height. A water tower typically weighs around 500,000 pounds when it is empty, but can weigh more than 1 million pounds when it is filled with liquid.

What are the stages for building a water storage tank?

The process of building a water storage tank typically happens in two stages: first, the steel or concrete shell that will hold the water is built; second, the interior of the tank is outfitted with valves, pipes, and other equipment to distribute water. Tanks can store a variety of liquids besides just water. For example, in some places gasoline is stored in storage tanks that have been repurposed from former water towers or other sources.

What does the inside of a tank look like?

The inside of a storage tank looks completely different depending on what kind of liquid it stores. The interiors of water storage tanks are typically filled with a variety of valves and pipes that connect to a network that distributes the water throughout a community's plumbing system.

What maintenance is required for a water storage tower?

Water towers are fairly simple in design, so there isn't much that requires routine maintenance. That being said, if any of the valves or pumps aren't working the water pressure could be affected because there is nowhere for the water to go. This can cause low pressure at points throughout a distribution system which can have an impact on fire safety equipment and other necessities. When a water tower is out of operation, it can take anywhere from hours to days to get the pressure back up and running again depending on how much water was lost during the outage.

Does the inside of a water storage tank require maintenance?

Water towers are inspected on a regular basis to ensure that the level of water remains adequate. If there is some kind of leak or other water loss, it can be detected while an inspection takes place.

Water storage tanks are outfitted with various equipment depending on what type of liquid they hold, but most types involve valves and piping that require regular upkeep. Some tanks are made of stainless steel, copper, or other material that can be cleaned with a specific type of industrial cleaning solution.

Is there a lining inside of a water storage tower?

Most water storage tanks are lined with some sort of material to help reduce the potential for rust or other corrosion. It's possible to use a rubber lining that stretches across the entire interior surface, but it is more common to see something like polyurethane foam installed in sections depending on where the greatest risk for damage might be.

What are the possible hazards of a water storage tank?

It depends on what type of liquid is stored and the sort of damage taking place. Water towers typically don't pose any great danger, but if they become compromised or corroded this can expose anyone working nearby to hazardous materials. Water tanks that store other liquids like gasoline are more likely to be dangerous and should be worked on only by trained professionals.

How is a water storage tank inspected?

Inspections of water storage tanks can be conducted from inside or outside, depending on what kind of damage is being evaluated. Some common types of inspections include:

  • Visual inspection for signs of rust, corrosion, leaks, etc.
  • Using a specially equipped vehicle that will pump the liquid out and then measure how much volume is left over
  • Using a sonar device that can give an idea of how thick the material is that separates the liquid from the air
  • Using other special equipment to measure temperatures, vapor levels, etc.

What is the value of water storage tank inspections?

Water storage tank inspections can help prevent damage and leaks that could result in low water pressure or other problems. They can also give an idea of how much longer a facility has before it might need to be replaced or repaired. If there are any signs of rust or corrosion, then this means that the interior is exposed to whatever kind of liquid is being stored. Monitoring the levels of liquid can also help to reduce the risk of fire, drowning, or other accidents.

What are the regulations surrounding water storage tank inspections?

Water storage tanks are a common sight in many places and can be a valuable asset when it comes to meeting the needs of an area. They require regular inspections both from the inside and outside in order to ensure that they remain operational for as long as possible.

The regulations around water storage tank inspections vary depending on what kind of facility is being inspected and whether or not it is privately or publicly owned.

What are the benefits of water tank tower inspections?

  • Can detect if there is any issue with the tank
  • Can detect if there is leaking or other damage to the water storage tank.
  • The inspection can give an idea of how much longer a facility has before it might need to be replaced or repaired.

What are the possible hazards of a water storage tank?

The possible hazards of a water storage tank can be if the tank is compromised or corroded. If so, this could expose anyone working nearby to hazardous materials. Water tanks that store other liquids like gasoline are more likely to be dangerous and should be worked on only by trained professionals.

What are some possible signs of water tank leaks?

Sometimes, it's obvious when there is a leak in a water storage tank because you can see the problem right away. Other times, it isn't so obvious and leaks can go unnoticed for a long time before anyone realizes what is happening. Some common signs of a leak:

  • Rust stains on the outside of the tank
  • Puddles or standing water nearby (water seeping from cracks in the tank)
  • A lower than normal water level or no water at all
  • Bubbling or other chemical interactions within the tank that indicate corrosion is taking place
  • Other unusual odors coming from the area around the tank