What's in a Water Tower?
May 6, 2004 1:03 PM   Subscribe

You know those giant municipal water towers? I had always assumed that they were full of water, but on the way out of town today I noticed a truck door and a regular door on one... indicating to me that you might be able to drive a truck and/or walk into it. What is the inside of one of these structures like? Where is the water?
posted by pissfactory to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
How big is the door? They might be using it as a storage silo for road salt (or the latest equivalent substance). Would you be able to peek in that door and satisfy our curiosity too?
posted by Shane at 1:06 PM on May 6, 2004

The water is in a giant tank in the top of the structure. The bottom can be used for whatever the municipality wants to put there. It's a (possibly) (slightly) more aesthetically pleasing and (almost certainly) more utilitarian construction than the old steel girder-based water tank (like the one young Leo DiCaprio kept climbing in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"). Actually, if you took one of those skeletal metal water towers and encased it in concrete block, what you'd get is... exactly what you describe.

(Or at least so said a civil engineer/architect I used to know.)
posted by Alylex at 1:21 PM on May 6, 2004

Some domed storage towers are used for storing propane gas, while a rare number of units have been converted into buildings, much like Quonset huts. In a way, this is rather appropriate, as the original Quonset huts were modified diesel tanks which were cut in half and placed above ground.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:43 PM on May 6, 2004

and some are entrances to hell, of course (pull out the plug and whoosh, insta-sauna).

[quonset huts seem to have been designed rather than be modified something-else things]
posted by andrew cooke at 2:20 PM on May 6, 2004

Even if pissfactory is talking about a steel-girder based tank, it's possible that they still have doors there in case they have to repair something on the inside -- they would presumably drain it first.
posted by Hildago at 3:29 PM on May 6, 2004

i've seen a steel-girder based tank being constructed, and it's all at the top. water towers aren't for storage (cheaper and easier to do that in reservoirs) but for creating flow and pressure. that's why all the water is at the top.
posted by taumeson at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2004

taumeson is essentially correct. This link explains it all.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:16 AM on May 7, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the link.
posted by pissfactory at 10:21 AM on May 7, 2004

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