How Do Water Towers Work?

How Do Water Towers Work?

We all know what a water tower is, but do we know what it does? Our plumbing expert shares the basics!

Water towers are a common landmark in every small town and large city. Their use, however, isn’t as commonly known to those who don’t even know they use them. 

Many ask, why do we need to store water hundreds of feet in the water? What does the water do in a water tower? The answer is more simple than you may think. 

Clean, treated water is pumped up into the tower, where it’s stored in a large tank that might hold a million or so gallons—enough water to supply its residents for a day. When water is needed, water pumps utilize the pull of gravity to provide high water pressure. Because water towers work with gravity, they must be taller than the buildings they’re providing water to in order to reach the highest floors of every building.

There’s significant importance to keeping water high off the round as well, as it allows for the use of smaller water pumps. In general, water demand for a city fluctuates throughout the day. Lots of folks are taking showers before work and school, but fewer people are running a lot of water at 3 a.m.

Without a water tower, the municipality would have to buy a water pump big and powerful enough to keep up with peak demand in the mornings, which would then largely go to waste during less busy parts of the day for water usage. Instead, municipalities can buy a pump just large enough to satisfy the region’s average water demand for the day, and let the power of the water tower take over during the times with demand that exceeds the pump’s capabilities. When water demand goes down at night, the pump can replace the water in the tower. Also, if the power goes out and the city’s water pumps fail, the water tower can keep water running smoothly for at least 24 hours.

With today’s technological advancements, it may seem like a water tower is useless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, even Louisville, Kentucky, still uses the water tower it constructed back in 1860. Millions of people in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles also get their water from water towers, which are often located on top of tall buildings so that they can provide high water pressure for residents.