|Created: October 3, 2002||Updated: August 15, 2019|
What is a water tower and how does it work ?
A water tower is an architectural structure used for a technical purpose. A water storage container is placed in its top part. From the container water is distributed in pipes to different destinations. The container is elevated in order to get the appropriate pressure required to distribute water. Water is pumped to the container and then can be distributed out of the container without any additional pressure supply. It relies only on the pressure produced by the elevation of water (due to gravity). This is the main reason why the water container must be elevated higher than the water consumers.
A water tower may be used as:
- a basic device to ensure pressurized water distribution, or
- an additional device that guarantees delivering the necessary quantity of water during the time of increased demand, when pumps alone aren’t enough. Thanks to the water tower in such a system, pumps can be of weaker capacity (and therefore cheaper) than in a system not assisted by the water tower. This is because pumps can be sized to meet the average demand for water, rather than having to manage to deliver pressure in the short hours of the peak demand. The water tower helps with water during peak usage times and can be refilled after the demand drops, for example at night, or
- a reserve container, used in the case of a pumps’ failure or a power cut. This is because it relies on pressure produced by the elevation of water (due to gravity) and does not need additional power, or
- a compensatory container that guarantees the pressure in a water supply system is stable (preventing sudden blows in pipes which can cause damages).
Types of water towers according to the recipients’ category:
- municipal – belonging to municipal water supply systems and delivering water mainly to flats,
- railway – serving to fill steam engines in times of the steam train (but also providing water for technical and social purposes on railway stations),
- factory – distributing water in industrial plants, factories and farms.
Water towers are interesting not only because of their functional character, but even more because of their appearance. Despite the identical function and the same working method, shapes of these structures are very diversified. Older towers are often very striking, richly ornamented and nicely designed. Especially old municipal towers are beautiful, as they usually stood in the central or the highest point of a city and were supposed to be a pride of its inhabitants.
The shape of new towers is usually subordinated to their function, aesthetic issues haven’t been the priority at their construction. However sometimes modern technologies add to their good looks. Sometimes they are designed by famous architects, like for example the tower in Svaneke on Bornholm >>, built in 1952, designed by the famous Danish architect – Jorn Utzon, designer of the opera house in Sydney.
Yet both – the old historic ones, and these contemporary water towers constitute a very interesting outstanding element of the surrounding architecture. Unfortunately the majority of older water towers stopped fulfilling its original function. Because of a lack of funds for repairs, as well as no real ideas for their new function, these towers are often left to ruin. We should direct our attention to them and appreciate their value granting them the status of industrial heritage monuments. We should also think of possibilities of their renovation and readaptation for new purposes,
e.g. a gallery, a restaurant, a residential house.
My Project – water towers collection
I am interested in water towers mainly because of their architecture. I try to immortalize them in photographs and to show the beauty of these buildings. My project is also of a documentary character – with the purpose being collecting photos and information about all water towers in Poland (existing and of the ones already destroyed) and creating a catalogue of water towers.
On my web page you can find pictures of water towers done by me or received from other people.
If anybody knows about any water tower or its history, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org