The need for water tanks is as old as mankind itself. Ancient civilizations found ways of storing water using animal skin, wood, stone, and naturally occurring containers. They found the need to have containers to store water, having observed that lakes and swamps dry out in season.
As people found more important uses of water other than for drinking, a water tank became much more important. Precious water is now stored for several purposes. These include drinking, irrigation, agriculture, farming, fire fighting, plant care, animal care, food preparation, chemical manufacturing, business use, and other uses.
A few ancient tanks still exist and are still useful today, which makes it possible for water tank manufacturers and water experts to see how early humans stored their water. A wooden water tank was discovered at the Año Nuevo State Reserve in California, believed to have been built in 1884, completely covered with plants and weeds. Also, century-old water tanks in medieval castles and stone water tanks from the Indus Valley civilization (constructed in 3000-1500 BC) are still visible today.
Through the years, several materials have been used in manufacturing water tanks. They include stone, welded steel, concrete, stainless steel, fiberglass and plastics (polyethylene or polypropylene). There is no saying which material is best in maintaining the purity of a water source, so long as each container is perfectly shut and leak-free.
Lined carbon steel is usually used when manufacturing ground water tanks. This is usually filled by a water well or from surface water, and used during peak demand cycles. Steel is also commonly used for elevated water tanks or water towers.
A 70-feet-high water tower produces a discharge pressure of 30 psi. Meanwhile, the most mobile water tanks are those horizontally installed on fire trucks or trailers. They deliver water to remote areas that may not be reached by water hydrants.
A water tank’s specification depends on several parameters. These include tank design, materials used, water capacity volume, purpose (what the water will be used for), location (indoor, outdoor, above ground or underground), temperature, pressure requirements, mode of delivery (extraction or pumping), wind and earthquake resistant, back flow prevention, and bacteria/virus control. A reliable tank must consider all these elements.
Stored water is prone to set off the growth of bacteria, algae, and virus, as well as accumulate minerals and gas, thereby changing the PH level. It is therefore necessary to come up with correct tank design to mitigate these negative effects on the water, or else the consumer will experience all sorts of contamination problems. Poisoning is one of the most common problems.
There have been reported cases of copper poisoning from water that has been stored inside improperly designed plastic tanks. This only shows that the design and construction of water tanks is not a simple matter. This is especially true in such cases where stored water will be used for human, animal or plant consumption.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) looks over articles and specifications for water tank applications and designs. Its goal is to educate people on water tanks and water safety. It regularly provides scientific resources to guide manufacturers and users towards the proper design, materials and use of water tanks.