Water Tower

Theoretical background

A structural engineer designs a structure such as building, bridges, tower etc. to withstand 

forces. Forces come from many sources such as the weight of the building, the people inside 

the building, earthquake, wind or any other environmental loads. When designing a 

structure the engineer must account for its safety, aesthetics and serviceability while taking 

in to consideration economic and environmental constraints. The design process is both 

creative and technical and requires fundamental knowledge of material properties and laws 

of mechanics that govern material response.

Link to our project

Our task for this project would be to conduct a balsa wood project. Just as how engineers have to

design the water tower structure to withstand forces we would have to adhere to the principles of

building and construction trades, engineering, physics and static equilibrium.

Key takeaways

  • Various constraints of balsa wood
  • Various principles of building and construction trades 
  • What is static equilibrium

Background Information
Water towers are incredibly simple devices even though they come in various shapes and sizes. It is simply just a large elevated tank containing water.

  • Why are water towers tall?
Basically 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.


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