How do water towers work?

Water towers are large elevated containers filled with water. The main purpose of water towers is to provide wider pressure to a system. By holding a large volume of water elevated above the level of surrounding buildings that use water, the tower creates pressure in the water system.

The tremendous weight of the water in the tower pushes down forcefully in a pipe connected to the water system, allowing water to spray powerfully from faucets, hoses and other devices. Water towers are typically constructed on high ground to increase the power of the water pressure they create. Having adequate pressure in the water system is vital, since inadequate pressure can lead to low flow of faucets, bad pressure in the upper floors of buildings and low water pressure during power outages.

Water Storage and Demand

Not only do water towers provide water pressure, they also provide a place to store water to meet demand for fluctuating water needs. For instance, people tend to use a lot of water in the morning, when they take showers and go to the bathroom before going to work or school. Water towers provide the pressure and volume needed to sustain this simultaneous demand. After periods of high demand, the volume of water inside the tower will be reduced, but during off hours a water pump is used to raise the level of the water inside the tower. Water towers are especially important during fires, when water demands are very high to keep hoses operating. A water tower will often hold enough water to service a town for a day without any extra water being pumped into the system.


Water towers can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the water demands the tower is meant to fulfil. Small towns will often have a single water tower to supply pressure throughout the town, while cities may have several towers. Tall buildings often have their own small water towers on the roof to create water pressure for the higher floors. Typical water towers are about 120 feet tall. The taller the tower and the more water it holds, the more pressure it will create.