Create or acquire construction plans. Although water towers are a basic structure, the size, materials used and distance from where the water will service require a customized plan to properly accomplish this engineering project. Towers can be any height, as needed to work with a specific location; constructed of metal or wood; and can remain open, be enclosed or have storage buildings attached.
Dig locations for concrete tower footings. Dig down to the bedrock. No set depth is needed, as locations vary. Consult county authorities or the local extension office during the planning stages to properly determine necessary equipment, manpower and supplies.
Pour concrete into forms supported by the bedrock. Install any underground pipes before pouring the concrete for a slab, if a slab is desired at the base of the tower.
Construct the tower. Be sure to secure the tower to the footings. The tower can be constructed from wood, but steel construction is stronger and longer lasting. If you lack welding skills, hire a local contractor who works with steel home and barn construction to erect the frame. If building your own wood tower, simplify the construction by using straight vertical supports, just as in basic home construction. Add diagonal lengths of lumber on each side of what would be the exterior walls of the frame for the strength and stability needed to carry the weight of a full water tank.
Construct or hoist the tank, which can be constructed piece by piece on top of the tower from wood and sheet metal, or it can be purchased as a metal or plastic tank. Although early American water towers were basically large wooden barrels, the cooperage skills to create such a tank are too advanced for most individuals. It is recommended that you construct a wooden or steel frame, then line the inside of the frame with sheets of stainless or galvanized steel. Never use lead to weld or solder metal inside the tank. Instead, apply a bead of food-grade silicone sealant between metal overlaps and use a riveter to secure the sheets together. Always secure any style of tank to the tower with a network of metal straps.
Complete installation of the tank. Add the rain-catching devices and screens to prevent insects from entering the water. If desired, add a cover to shade the tank.
Install all piping and firings between the tank and location of service.