How Water Towers Are Demolished

How are these steel giants brought down? 

No matter where you are in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed water towers. These behemoths are responsible for storing and distributing the water for towns and cities. Still, once a water tower outlives its purpose and new construction is slated for its location, it will need to come down. 

Why Are Water Towers So Tall?

It may seem silly to make such a massive storage tank for water. Many may wonder why the water has to be suspended so high off the ground. The reason why water towers are so tall is due to the need for adequate water pressure.

Water is not pumped from water towers to its intended location, but rather, it flows. Much like water running down a hill, the taller the hill, the faster the water runs. When you open the tap in your shower, you enjoy water rushing forth as though pushed through a jet. The truth is that water is flowing down a high elevation to your home using what is called hydrostatic pressure. The lower your home is from the water tower, the higher the hydrostatic pressure. For this reason, water towers must be immensely tall. Water from a nearby water source is pumped into the tanks and released from the bottom, using tremendous gravity to send it miles away with immense pressure.

Difficulties in Demolition

When water towers need to come down, they pose unique challenges for demolition experts. Unlike houses that can be knocked over with heavy equipment or buildings that can be safely imploded on their own footprint, most water towers are entirely made of steel. Their supports are designed to be immensely strong to support the weight of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water as well as stand up to severe weather conditions. Fortunately, many water towers are built away from other structures, making felling them sideways much safer. In some instances, water towers are built near surrounding structures or the vicinity has been developed. In these instances, they may need to be dismantled completely where they stand. 

Collapsing Water Towers

For the sake of safe dismantling, most water towers are collapsed on their side. This is done by intentionally weakening the intended side supports in the direction of intended collapse and applying pressure in that direction. At times, the supports for one side may be blasted with explosives or carefully cut with cutting torches. The trajectory of the tower is carefully planned and supervised. After the tower collapses, it is completely dismantled by demolition professionals. The metals are usually recycled for other uses. 

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