Water Storage & Rain Barrels Part 2

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Now let’s move on to the larger containers for storage…

Water Storage Towers

You do have the option of connecting together several of the above water barrels to add additional storage, however that may not provide enough water for animals, gardens, greenhouses, & other household uses.
Please remember that this type of storage container can vary GREATLY in size depending on your needs, from small garden towers to those needed for towns.

Here we will cover the smaller versions.

First we should talk a little about how water towers work so the basics & directions make sense.

Essentially, rain water is captured in a storage tank located at the top of the tower and released through standard valves and faucets at the other end of the pipe system connected to the storage tank.

The purpose of a water tower is to provide running water with the pressure resulting from the gravity as water falls through pipes from the high tower.

A big reason for the level of reliability in water pressure is the water tower.

Tower, Tank and Pump

A water tower is an incredibly simple device. Although water towers come in all shapes and sizes, they all do the same thing: A water tower is simply a large, elevated tank of water. For example, take the water tower shown above. This tower is located in Kill Devils Hill, near Kitty Hawk, NC. It is about 165 feet (50 meters) tall.

Water towers are tall to provide pressure. Each foot of height provides 0.43 PSI (pounds per square Inch) of pressure. A typical municipal water supply runs at between 50 and 100 PSI (major appliances require at least 20 to 30 PSI). The water tower must be tall enough to supply that level of pressure to all of the houses and businesses in the area of the tower. So water towers are typically located on high ground, and they are tall enough to provide the necessary pressure. In hilly regions, a tower can sometimes be replaced by a simple tank located on the highest hill in the area.

A water tower’s tank is normally quite large. A normal in-ground swimming pool in someone’s backyard might hold something like 20,000 or 30,000 gallons (that’s a lot of water!), and a typical water tower might hold 50 times that amount!

Typically, a water tower’s tank is sized to hold about a day’s worth of water for the community served by the tower. If the pumps fail (for example, during a power failure), the water tower holds enough water to keep things flowing for about a day.

One of the big advantages of a water tower is that it lets a municipality size its pumps for average rather than peak demand. That can save a community a lot of money.

Say that the water consumption for a pumping station averages 500 gallons of water per minute (or 720,000 gallons over the course of a day). There will be times during the day when water consumption is much greater than 500 gallons per minute. For example, in the morning, lots of people wake up at about the same time (say 7:00 a.m.) to go to work. They go to the bathroom, take a shower, brush their teeth, etc. Water demand might peak at 2,000 gallons per minute at 7 a.m. — there is a big cost difference between a 500-gallon-per-minute pump and a 2,000-gallon-per-minute pump.

Because of the water tower, the municipality can purchase a 500-gallon-per-minute pump and let the water tower handle the peak demand. At night, when demand normally falls to practically zero, the pump can make up the difference and refill the water tower.

In most towns, the water people drink comes from either a well, a river or a reservoir (normally a local lake). The water is treated in a water treatment plant to remove sediment (by filtration and/or settling) and bacteria (typically with ozone, ultraviolet light and chlorine). The output from the water treatment plant is clear, germ-free water. A high-lift pump pressurizes the water and sends it to the water system’s primary feeder pipes. The water tower is attached to the primary feeders quite simply, as shown in this diagram:

If the pump is producing more water than the water system needs, the excess flows automatically into the tank. If the community is demanding more water than the pump can supply, then water flows out of the tank to meet the need.

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.

Water towers on top of buildings are a common feature in many cities.

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. So 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!

How do you design & build a tower?

Here is a sample of simple directions for a model (used for demonstration)
Get plumbing parts from (Home depot)

  • a short section of 4 inch plastic pipe with a glued on top
  • and then at the bottom glue a plastic pipe piece called a reduction which went from the 4 inch to 1 1/2 inch plastic.
  • Then glue in a 1 1/2 inch plastic valve
  • finished it with a short piece of 1 1/2 inch plastic pipe to make the downwards piece.
  • Turn it upside down fill it
  • close the valve
  • then turn it right side up
  • when you open the valve all the water rushes out pretty quickly.

Find the plumbing guy and tell him what you want to do and you can get all the pieces in 1 trip.

You can Custom Design Your Own Tower Here


They will prepare a preliminary design for you to review along with a quote for your tower design.

HERE is a link for more varieties of pre-designed plans &/or Towers for Sale.

OR you can make your own

There are several ways to build water towers….

Each construction method must emphasize pressure and height in order to provide an even water pressure for a municipality or a building. As long as these basic requirements are met, a high degree of creativity can go into building the exterior of the water tower.

Below are some basics for a tower big enough for a community office building or house.

Materials and Design

To construct a water tower, you may use a variety of materials, as long as the intrinsic design of the tower is structurally stable.

Steel and concrete will provide both stability and endurance through weather conditions. Whatever materials are used, the reserve tank of the water tower should be fully supported by columns and be at the very top of the structure.

In some cases, water towers can double as living spaces or office complexes. The basic construction remains the same, in that the water tank itself is suspended high enough in the air to generate sufficient psi for the community, but the underlying support columns can be sealed off, and other usable spaces can be created.

The simplest water tower design is for a single residential building. You may place the water reserve tank on top of the pre-existing building and utilize the structure of the building as the support.

Exterior Design

When constructing a water tower, build the exterior to best reflect the character of the people who use it.

Because water towers often act as landmarks for small towns, the exterior design can be a way to express the character of the town. While many towns opt to label their water towers with the town’s name, some municipalities go further and choose a more creative exterior.

As long as the basic structural components of the water tower are met, the exterior of the tower may be designed to resemble fruits, sporting balls or any other objects that have the same general shape as the reserve tank. Creativity, budget concerns and taste all play a role in the ultimate design of the exterior.

In Great Britain, a water tower was concealed with a house built around it to prevent the actual tower from disrupting the scenic view of the community in which it sat. Today, this house in clouds continues to stand.

Below are a few videos from Wranglerstar that may help..

How to Build a 500 gal Water Tower

There are alot of helpful videos down the right side of these videos on youtube, so please be sure to check them out as well.

Now we will do at least one that’s a little simpler

Water Barrel Towers

Jodie & Julie from Food Storage Made Easy really have made this an easy process!

Below is an article & video they have explaining how they did it AND some information on how you can get some discounts!

Storing 55 gallon barrels comes with Pros and Cons:

– Great solution for storing LOTS of water
– Available in multiple sizes from 30 gallons up to 250 gallons
– With additives, can extend rotation needs to every 5 years

– Slightly difficult to fill and rotate
– Not very accessible when you have to actually USE the water
– Not an ideal solution in small homes/storage areas and shouldn’t be stored outside

A couple of months ago, we were contacted by Trigen Manufacturing and we got some of their water barrel towers. Their water barrel towers solve the typical cons to the regular way of storing 55 gallon barrels. Rotating and filing the barrels is a breeze compared to when they are upright. Not only is rotation easier, it is a space saver too!Both of us got one of their 3 barrel towers. Jodi’s husband built her tower and they took a video of it in case you are wanting to know how to build the actual shelf. The shelf comes with instructions, and the shelf is pretty basic so it’s not too difficult:

Putting the Tower together:

Darin from Trigen was kind enough to come over and help Julie get the barrels plumbed and ready for filling. This video shows you the tower fully built with the water barrels on it, and how to assemble the plumbing kit:

Check out the post on the barrels they did a few months ago when they were introduced and learn more about discounts available for Food Storage Made Easy readers!

To order call: 801-997-0575. Make sure you mention Food Storage Made Easy when you order to get the following discounts:

  • $20 off the Triple Barrel Tower with Upgraded Plumbing kit
  • $10 off Triple Barrel Tower with Basic Plumbing Kit
  • $10 off the Double Barrel Tower with Upgraded Plumbing kit
  • $10 off the Double Barrel Tower with Basic Plumbing kit

Visit Trigen Manufacturing for pricing and full list of contents. To get the discount, make a phone order and mention Food Storage Made Easy.

Pick up your barrels here:

Here is a video with FULL Tutorial on Rain Water Barrel Setup

Once again there are several links along the right side of the Youtube page that will give you ideas & instructions, so Please check them out as well.

Other Articles of Intrest associated with this topic that you will need:

  1. A Medium Sized Rain Water Collection System
  2. How to Clean a Water Storage Tank
  3. How to Buy Large Water Storage Tanks
  4. How to Clean a Portable Water Storage Tank
  5. How to Prepare for Emergency Water Storage
  6. How to Size Hot Water Storage Tanks
  7. How to Build a Water Storage Tank
  8. How to Treat Water Storage Tank Water
  9. How to Clean Water From Large Storage Tanks
  10. How to Build Wooden Above Ground Water Storage Tanks
  11. How to Treat Water for Storage
  12. Why don’t water towers freeze solid in the winter?
  13. Water Pressure and Flow Rate
  14. Water-Towers.com: Water Tower Information
  15. Unique Water Towers
  16. TreeHugger: Water Cycle

One thought on “Water Storage & Rain Barrels Part 2

    George Marshbanks said:
    January 4, 2015 at 1:05 pm

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