This is How Water Towers Actually Work

You see them all over urban areas, but how do they actually help get water to your house? Practical Engineering's YouTube video has an answer.
Jessica Miley

Clean water is essential to human life. Most of us don’t give us a second thought, we simply turn on the tap and use it as needed. 

If you live in an urban area, take a moment to think about how big the demand for that water must be. Not only is water needed for cooking and cleaning it is needed for activities you often don’t even see such as firefighting and sanitation. 

Providing water to cities and towns requires some serious infrastructure. Depending on where you live, this infrastructure might not be visible in your daily life but is a complex system of storage, cleaning, and distribution. 

Water distribution can happen in many ways, the most obvious being to simply carry it, by foot or machine. However, this is pretty inefficient when you need to provide water for hundreds or hundreds of millions. 

Today we use pipes to deliver water. Adding pressure to the end of one pipe will make the water travel to the other end of the pipe. These Pipes are generally underground so again; it's easy to feel as though the water out of your tap appears like magic. 

One visible indicator of your local water infrastructure is the water tower. These tall towers usually have a big top and a thin cylinder holding them up. How do they work? 

In their most simple form, they provide additional water storage close to areas of high demand. So overnight when water demand is low, the water tower is filled with water from the primary storage area. 

Then during the day when the demand gets high the water from the tower can be used to make sure there are no discrepancies between supply and demand. Towers are more than simply towers though, they also store energy. 

As pressure is essential for water movement, elevated towers also store the water under pressure which means it can be more quickly distributed as well as protecting the water from potential contaminants. This educational video from Practical Engineering is essential viewing to finally understand what your local water tower is doing.

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