A water tower is an elevated structure supporting a water tank constructed at a height sufficient to pressurize a water supply system for the distribution of potable water, and to provide emergency storage for fire protection. In some places, the term standpipe is used interchangeably to refer to a water tower, especially one with tall and narrow proportions.〔(New England Water Supplies – A Brief History, Marcis Kempe, MWRA, NEWWA Journal, September 2006, pages 96-99 )〕 Water towers often operate in conjunction with underground or surface service reservoirs, which store treated water close to where it will be used.〔(The water supply of towns and the construction of waterworks, William Kinninmond Burton, 1894 )〕 Other types of water towers may only store raw (non-potable) water for fire protection or industrial purposes, and may not necessarily be connected to a public water supply.
Water towers are able to supply water even during power outages, because they rely on hydrostatic pressure produced by elevation of water (due to gravity) to push the water into domestic and industrial water distribution systems; however, they cannot supply the water for a long time without power, because a pump is typically required to refill the tower. A water tower also serves as a reservoir to help with water needs during peak usage times. The water level in the tower typically falls during the peak usage hours of the day, and then a pump fills it back up during the night. This process also keeps the water from freezing in cold weather, since the tower is constantly being drained and refilled.
Although the use of elevated water storage tanks has existed since ancient times in various forms, the modern use of water towers for pressurized public water systems developed during the mid-19th century, as steam-pumping became more common, and better pipes that could handle higher pressures were developed. In Great Britain, standpipes consisted of tall, exposed, inverted u-shaped pipes, used for pressure relief and to provide a fixed elevation for steam-driven pumping engines which tended to produce a pulsing flow, while the pressurized water distribution system required constant pressure. Standpipes also provided a convenient fixed location to measure flow rates. Designers typically enclosed the riser pipes in decorative masonry or wooden structures. By the late 19th-Century, standpipes grew to include storage tanks to meet the ever-increasing demands of growing cities.〔
Many early water towers are now considered historically significant and have been included in various heritage listings around the world. Some are converted to apartments or exclusive penthouses.〔(10 Industrial Water Towers Converted Into Awesome, Modern Homes )〕 In certain areas, such as New York City in the United States, smaller water towers are constructed for individual buildings. In California and some other states, domestic water towers enclosed by siding (tankhouses) were once built (1850s–1930s) to supply individual homes; windmills pumped water from hand-dug wells up into the tank.
==Design and construction==
A variety of materials can be used to construct a typical water tower; steel and reinforced or prestressed concrete are most often used (with wood, fiberglass, or brick also in use), incorporating an interior coating to protect the water from any effects from the lining material. The reservoir in the tower may be spherical, cylindrical, or an ellipsoid, with a minimum height of approximately and a minimum of in diameter. A standard water tower typically has a height of approximately .
Pressurization occurs through the hydrostatic pressure of the elevation of water; for every of elevation, it produces of pressure. of elevation produces roughly , which is enough pressure to operate and provide for most domestic water pressure and distribution system requirements.
The height of the tower provides the pressure for the water supply system, and it may be supplemented with a pump. The volume of the reservoir and diameter of the piping provide and sustain flow rate. However, relying on a pump to provide pressure is expensive; to keep up with varying demand, the pump would have to be sized to meet peak demands. During periods of low demand, jockey pumps are used to meet these lower water flow requirements. The water tower reduces the need for electrical consumption of cycling pumps and thus the need for an expensive pump control system, as this system would have to be sized sufficiently to give the same pressure at high flow rates.
Very high volumes and flow rates are needed when fighting fires. With a water tower present, pumps can be sized for average demand, not peak demand; the water tower can provide water pressure during the day and pumps will refill the water tower when demands are lower.
Using wireless sensor networks to monitor water levels inside the tower allows municipalities to automatically monitor and control pumps without installing and maintaining expensive data cables.〔
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