Form and Function
Water towers come in all shapes and sizes. Take, for example, this giant peach along I-85 in Gaffney, South Carolina!

This water tower comes complete with leaf, stem and that funny crease that peaches have!

Photo courtesy John C. Wren

In a city, tall buildings often need to solve their own water pressure problems. Because the buildings are so tall, they often exceed the height that the city's water pressure can handle. Therefore, a tall building will have its own pumps and its own water towers. In the following picture, taken from the Empire State Building in New York City, there are at least 30 small water towers visible on the tops of these buildings!

Another interesting fact about water towers -- they can affect your insurance rates! During a fire, the water demand increases significantly and may greatly exceed the capacity of the pumps at the water plant. A water tower guarantees that there will be enough pressure to keep water flowing through the fire hydrants. Fire insurance rates are normally lower in a community in which the water system has water towers.

The next time you are out driving around, especially if you are driving through a series of small towns, take the time to notice the water towers. Now that you know how they work, you will be amazed by how many you see and by all the different forms they take!

Fun Water Tower Fact
For pilots of small, private aircraft, water towers are a huge help because:
  • They are large.
  • They are elevated, making them easy to see from an airplane.
  • All small towns have them.
  • Small towns are nice enough to paint the town's name on nearly every tower!
If you have ever been in a small airplane flying cross-country, you know that from the air, all small towns look the same; it is very easy to get confused. When you don't have a GPS receiver, water towers make navigation a LOT easier!

For more information on water towers and related topics, check out the links on the next page.