| Architecture | Water
TANKS FOR THE
An Illustrated Water Tank Glossary
A Salute to
Standpipes, "Tin Men", Waterspheres, Torosphericals, Spheroids
by Edward Aquifer
Clyde Burns - Consultant
Vintage photo courtesy Navidad Valley Historical Museum, Schulenburg
Reservoirs and Standpipes
level storage tanks, sometimes simply called reservoirs, are basically
water towers without legs They have a height equal to or less than
their diameter and are usually placed on elevated positions where
available. Standpipes have heights greater than their diameter, but
still no supporting superstructure. While water tower companies still
offer ornamental architectural elements that can turn utilitarian
tanks into works of art - most communities consider this a frivolous
expenditure and leave standpipe decoration to the next graduating
high school class.
and "Tin Men" -
the world of water storage, the icon is the riveted tank. Once the
pride of the community, these towers were proof that towns had outgrown
their village or hamlet status. Whenever the subject of water towers
comes up, it's the riveted tank that appears in the mind's eye. References
to the tin woodsman in the Wizard of Oz are frequent. State-of-the-art
when installed, these towers were built better than they had to be
and are still holding their water in tens of thousands of towns. Ironically,
these towers which had once been the symbol of modernity, are now
being dismantled, in many cases, simply because they "look old."
The Quintessential Water Tower
is the familiar "golfball-on-a-tee" design. These tanks can contain
anywhere from 25,000 gallons to 150,000 gallons. Despite what would
appear to be the obvious, the support column does not contain water
but merely encloses access ladders and the pipes that connect to the
tank. When examined up close - the bell-bottom base has a door allowing
access to pumps and controls.
AKA Single Pedestal Tanks
water tank is most economical design and according to company propaganda,
it's also the most efficient. Most of these have access ladders on
the tower and a catwalk and handrail around the tank. These are usually
the towers a community installs after they have outgrown their riveted
tank. These were postwar favorites with subdivisions and suburbs all
across the country.
I-10 Torospherical Tank constructed by Clyde Burns
Photo courtesy Clyde Burns
Tanks & Water Spheroids
AKA "Big Mamas and Motherships"
We haven't come across any literature using the term "mothership"
but we have heard variations of Big Mama used by staff members. Clyde
Burns of Huntsville,
Texas, a man who has erected, dismantled and reassembled tanks
for forty years, informs us that larger water spheres are more correctly
called water spheroids. These usually hold 200,000 gallons and up.
Within this group are the Torospherical Tanks - like the one shown
here in Texarkana.
As the demand for water increases, newer designs requiring
less maintenance are needed. The new tank on the block is the Hydra-pillar.
Hydra-pillars have a large diameter (concrete or corrugated steel)
shaft - which eliminates the costly and time-consuming painting of
framework and scaffolding. These are gaining in popularity in cities
and McKinney (shown here).
Photo by Janet K. Gregg, June 2005