Photos by Nancy Pierce
Brad Satterwhite wrote this article while interning at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute in 2012.
Although some municipalities use their water towers to make a visual splash – such as the beloved Peachoid in Gaffney, S.C., and the baseball water tower in Fort Mill, S.C. – many others are more subtle, using the towers to offer local slogans or simply to proclaim the town name.
In spite of the fact that the technology has been around for centuries (water towers have been around since the Industrial Revolution), water towers are still an integral part of today’s water system. A newer example can be seen along I-85 in Charlotte at Mallard Creek Church Road.
The towers help maintain the water pressure of a municipal water system. The tower’s elevation increases the water pressure. During morning hours – a time of peak use – water towers accommodate the extra demand. As residents shower and brush their teeth, the water pump makes up for any lag in the ground storage system. In the evening – when people use less water – water towers refill.