Water Towers: What Is It, Why Is It Important and How It Works

We are all familiar with “power failure”– even the cable TV connection goes out quite a few times in a month. Like every other utility failure, the water system does face issues from time to time. But the thing is, you don’t even realize that the entire water system supply is covered by giants – water towers we are used to seeing from a distance, elevated from the ground. They are often seen as iconic parts of major cities and townships, but very few people understand what they are for, or how they work. This article aims to clarify everything about water towers, such as their function, purpose, and the way they are designed. 

What are Water Towers?

Basically, water towers are elevated water storage that serves various purposes including supplying water to your area. In case of emergency, the water system supplies water to its people from this massive reserve of millions of gallons of water at ease, so that you don’t get interrupted while using the water at any time throughout the day. 

Additionally, in fire emergencies, the giant water tanks do some extraordinary job for the firefighters. Water towers are of various shapes and sizes depending on demand, but they all work the same way. Regardless of the type, you will find that each of these water towers is elevated to at least 130 ft above the ground. So, now you know why do water towers hold water. But how much?

Water tanks can store a huge amount of water. A standard swimming pool holds more or less 20,000 gallons of water, which is 50 times less than the amount that a water tower is capable of containing. Depending on the size, a water tower can contain 1-4 million gallons of water.

You might be wondering why these water towers are hoisted to such a high position above the ground. This is simply due to gravity. Gravity helps water to fall with the necessary pressure that is needed to pump it through the pipes and reach every single house, even on the top roof of a building. So, even if you live on the 10th floor of a building, the gravitational force has got you covered. It’s a matter of physics. 

The Mechanism of Water Towers

As for how do water towers work, there is a bit more physics required to understand it exactly. Before supplying water to everyone in the town, the water tank needs to be filled with water. Generally, through electronic-powered mechanical pumps, the water is pumped from the water treatment plant to serve the immediate needs of the residents of the area.

The water gains potential energy and gravitational power that help the water to flow out of the tank ensuring the pressure that needs to be reached to your house, and even on the top floors of every building. A standard water tower is 120 ft in height. Each additional foot of height contributes towards increasing the water pressure. To be precise, it is 0.43 pounds per square inch.

Mostly, your water consumption reaches a peak during the morning rush. In the morning you need a continuous flow of water to brush your teeth, take a quick shower, prepare a coffee, and other common morning habits.

During that time, you get water from the treatment plant. In addition to that, whenever the treatment plant is running low out of the water, the water tower’s storage is always on standby. Typically, this giant water tower fills at night. Because your water consumption at night is pretty low compared to the daytime. So instead of sending water to your house’s sink, the water goes straight to the water tower to increase the storage capacity. Most water towers look like giant lollipops.

Throughout the whole day, to provide you with the same level of pressure as you get in the mornings, the local government might need to buy water pumps big and powerful enough to keep up with peak demand. As water consumption is less during other parts of the day, it isn’t really worth running more powerful pumps that will mostly go to waste.

So, here the water towers provide a less expensive solution to the living people of a specific area. During the non-peak times of water consumption, the water tower takes over the capabilities of the pumps. With the help of gravitational force, the water tower provides your water with the needed pressure, as you get in the mornings.

At the time of power failures, the electronic pumps are unable to drive water from the treatment plant to your home. So, the water tower becomes the only source of water until the power gets back. As the stored water already has potential energy, there’s no need for electricity to flow out of the tank. Gravity gets the work done here.

Further Clarification

Water towers are rather attractive as infrastructure goes. Some individuals create such buildings when the town doesn’t need them anymore. The Pop Chart Lab designers produced a graphic tribute to the taxonomy of New York City’s water tower. Or why do people need hundreds of feet above the city to store our water?

Many water towers are very straightforward. The pure, filtered mixture is drained into the tower, which is kept in a giant tank of a thousand barrels – sufficient water for the whole day. Units use the gravity pull to produce high water pressure when the region needs water. Since they function with pressure, they must be bigger to reach the top levels than the structures to which they provide water. The water pressure increases by 4.43 feet an sq. inch each extra foot in the water tower.

Maintaining high water off the floor plays a significant function for infrastructural facilities. It enables simpler pipes to be used in locations. Water demand in a city generally changes all day long. Many individuals take baths in the morning at college and university, but more people will run a lot of water around 3 a.m. With no need for a water tower, the city would need to acquire a huge and powerful water pump in the morning to maintain the highest demand, which would then mostly be used as water in less busy times of the day (plus incur extra costs). However, communities can purchase pumping only big enough to meet the load requirements for water in the area by the day and allow a power supply of the water tower with a request exceeding the capacity of the pump during the time. The pump can refill water in the tower if the demand for water drops in the morning. In addition, the water tower can keep water moving for an entire day if the electricity comes out and water pumps in the city fail.

Although towers of water usually appear to be the product of a past age, they are nevertheless extremely important today. Built in 1860, Louisville Water Tower is the oldest surviving water tower in the world and is still in service. The system still provides millions of residents in New York City with water from towers, even if it is one of the last big cities to depend on. These water towers held above high structures, maintain water pressure even when the electricity is off (especially during a fire).

What Are Water Towers For

Water towers provide water and at power shortages so they use hydrostatic pressure produced by elevating the water (by inertia, since this tower is usually recharged with a pump) to distribute water into domestic and industrial water distribution systems, but without electricity, they cannot supply it for a lengthy moment. A water tower is also a tank for the use of water at high season. In general, the water table throughout the tower drops during the day’s peak use hours, then a motor recharges it in the dark. This also prevents the water from solidifying in cold conditions since the tower is emptied regularly.

Peaks are the earth’s water towers that serve both man-made and natural water needs to a considerable extent.  They are quite delicate and susceptible to weather change however they are not assessed in relevance and susceptibility globally. In this section, we provide the World Water Tower Index (WTI), which classifies all towers in terms of their water supply function and environment and society’s downstream dependency. We evaluate their susceptibility in relation to water stress, governance, hydro political tension, and future climate and lower socioeconomic changes for each water tower.

We find that the major water towers (the maximum WTI) are also one of the greatest susceptible, with significant climate and socio-economic shifts. This might badly affect the 1.9 global population in hilly locations (0.3 billion) or below (1.6 billion). Early intervention is needed to protect the survival of the largest and most vulnerable water towers in the globe.

On a regular day, people will turn their rollers on and unclog their toilets, said Enos Inniss, a civil engineering assistant professor at the University of Missouri. People who don’t use it need to go someplace, and the water tower is someplace. Most towers of water are large and seem gigantic towers. Since pumps from the treated wastewater transfer the water to the tank of the water tower, the water acquires latent heat or conserves. This energy enables the fluid to flow from the tank and, when required, transform its potential energy into kinetic energy (energy of motion).

In addition, the larger the water tower, hence the more force the water possesses, he stated. When a water tower has water to a tiny region nearby, for example, a burial site, it may be on the level as one INNIS reported it spotted on a long drive lately.

However, if a water tower is designed to retain water for a huge, remote metropolis, it will probably be massive and contain an immense tank. According to HowStuffWorks, a typical water tower is able to carry a regular backyard swimming pool, which contains around 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of water (about 76,000 to 114,000 liters).

When the supply of water is low, the water towers generally fill. Generally, after most people go to bed, that happens at night. The motors at the treatment facility still send water, but rather than flowing to the sinks of individuals, the water flows to the holding towers.

Then in the morning, when people run with water to brush their teeth, take showers, and brew coffee, it’s also water from the treatment plant that may be kept in houses across pipes, Inniss added, in addition to water from the water system.

Water towers also guarantee that there can be water delivery despite electricity failures at a minimum until they are completely empty. In the case of a power loss, the pumps would probably stop operating at the water treatment facility (when there is no power). But that the water within the tower is powerful, it may flow outside the tank with no need for additional voltage. This is because the water kept at such a high ground has stored potential energy, that can be converted into kinetic energy to move the water through the pumps when needed. There is no need for fuel because the conversion of energy is depending on the force of gravity, which means the system is automatic. Essentially, it is a gravity-based system, that requires no energy in the form of fuels at all to drive it. That’s physics at its finest! 

Several residential and business buildings in major cities like New York feature water towers as their heights. Water towers also store energy, a fact that is less widely known. At the pumping station, the complete procedure begins. When the water has been processed, motorized engines that are electrically driven transmit it via pipelines for immediate use (think showers, dish-washer, and sprinklers) or to a holding tower.

Most water towers are large and seem gigantic towers. Since motors from the water system transfer the feed water of the water tower, the water acquires energy stored or saves energy. This energy permits the water to pass out of the tank and transforms its potential power into kinetic (motional) energy when necessary. Water towers also verify that while there is water delivery throughout electricity failures at least till it water is running out. In the event of a power outage, the pumps would probably cease to work at the water treatment plant (unless a generator exists). And because the water inside this tower is powerful, it may not stream out of the tank with additional electricity.

When the tower is open, I could use a motor now, [from the water treatment center], to move the water again through the pipe.

The water flows out when you switch on your water faucet at home because of the gravity of the water. Your city’s municipal water supply pumps water to your home, at sufficient pressure for all the faucets to work well. It is generally delivered at a force of 50 to 100 PSI (pounds per square inch).

Water towers are large and frequently set high. This allows them to supply water to houses with proper pressure. A bit below half a pound per square centimeter pressurizes every foot of a water tower.

Mathematical formulae can be used by experts to estimate how large a water tower must be. They may be put on upper terrain in locations with many slopes, so that means that they should not have to be as large. Cities that are built on flat grounds would need larger water towers that are placed higher because they do not have the advantage of high ground.

Why Should We Have Towers for Water?

We always rely on municipal water systems to provide clean water, while the electric grid and other commodities are occasionally experiencing issues. However, in the event of an emergency, there must be a failsafe. This allows individuals to keep their water access while any system problems are resolved. This safeguard is the Water Towers and they do their job extremely well. In case of a major power loss, they are even able to sustain water delivery. Throughout seasons of increasing water usage, the water towers also support the needs of a specific area.

Remember the last time that you turned the faucet without acknowledging that water should quickly flow out? It certainly doesn’t ever occur to you if you are like most individuals who rely on municipal water supply. Indeed, requiring as much clean, free running water as you need is something that most people in today’s society never cease wondering why the water does not run out of the way the power, telephone, or fiber would. Without the advent of water towers, we would not have a guarantee of running water at all times, come rain or come shine. 

Iconic Water Tanks Tower over Kansas City Landscape - Tnemec Company, Inc.

High tanks for Water Storage

In a defined region or neighborhood, elevated water storage tanks are utilized to store fire protection water and potable beverage water. High tanks provide for a constant water supply across the system throughout the fundamental gravitational attraction. But using a broad range of forms, dimensions, and materials, high water ponds may be designed depending on the target purpose and the requirements of the distributed region.

The Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group (PTTG) has been a committed manufacturer of stainless steel tanks and a supplier of superior quality storage and high tanks for customers across the USA for more than 100 years.

High tanks are usually produced using metal tankers, which are cheap in shape and extremely long-lasting. It is easy to maintain carbon steel, and steel tanks for up to 60 years are known to last. Listed below are some of the most prevalent styles for tanks.

Ellipsoidal Double

Dual elliptical storage facilities are frequently regarded to be typical tank forms and are constructed of a cylindrical side wall soldered to the top and bottom ellipsoids and supported by steel columns and beams.

Regular maintenance of elevated storage tanks is essential to guarantee optimum tank performance and excellent water quality. AWWA industry guidelines and also most government, national and municipal legislation suggest that water tanks be inspected per 3-5 years. In order to guarantee that all is stable and operating properly, the inspectors examine the tank coverings, joints, fittings, surfaces, and base. If done to avoid further troubles such as leaking, hydraulic gradient, and water pollution, any defects or abnormalities detected during the inspection should be rectified on schedule.

To Wrap It Up

Many people ask, what are water towers for? As you can see, they are actually a brilliant solution to a problem that many people in the first world have rarely encountered. Thanks to these towers, water flows freely in all homes of developed countries. Well, instead of buying overpriced powerful pumps, a water tank does the work of supplying water with needed pressure at ease to your city. Of course, the cheaper method is better for the community as well, because less money needs to be taxed from them to run the system. They are truly a fascinating use of physics and are a fool-proof method to ensure that a community will always have running water. The giant lollipop-shaped water tower also does enhance the infrastructure of a town. Sometimes, the tower becomes something iconic for the people living in a city, and many water towers are considered landmarks in small towns.

In fact, the water towers are filled with water. And, no, like a water fountain you can’t drink from that. In order to deliver water, every water system needs water towers. They are put in place to ensure the proper (continuous) flow of water in residential and commercial areas of busy cities and they are an essential part of any metropolis. In all parts of the developed world, you’ll find these gigantic towers looming over cities, towns, and suburban areas, to keep the inhabitants of the area assured that they will always have running water without fail.

Did you know this about water towers? Or are you like the average Joe who often wonders about them but had no idea what they are? Well, now you know.

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