For the next several issues – VACo will publish photos of water towers from across the Commonwealth. If you have a water tower in your community – please email a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
A water tower is an incredibly simple device. Although water towers come in all shapes and sizes, they all do the same thing: A water tower is simply a large, elevated tank of water.
Water towers are tall to provide pressure. Each foot of height provides 0.43 PSI (pounds per square Inch) of pressure. A typical municipal water supply runs at between 50 and 100 PSI (major appliances require at least 20 to 30 PSI). The water tower must be tall enough to supply that level of pressure to all of the houses and businesses in the area of the tower. So water towers are typically located on high ground, and they are tall enough to provide the necessary pressure. In hilly regions, a tower can sometimes be replaced by a simple tank located on the highest hill in the area.
A water tower’s tank is normally quite large. A normal in-ground swimming pool in someone’s backyard might hold something like 20,000 or 30,000 gallons (that’s a lot of water!), and a typical water tower might hold 50 times that amount! Typically, a water tower’s tank is sized to hold about a day’s worth of water for the community served by the tower. If the pumps fail (for example, during a power failure), the water tower holds enough water to keep things flowing for about a day.