1953 Structure's Design Unique
By Meg Power
Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Courtesy photo by Meg Power]
HAMPTON -- After turning onto Route 101, it peeks out from between the trees. Along the boulevard it's an unmistakable landmark seen from one end of the beach to the other.
It's the Hampton Beach water tower, at your service.
Aquarion Water Company of New Hampshire maintains the tower and Operations Manager Carl McMorran talked about the tower's ins and outs.
The tank was built in 1953, which explains the unique structure. Nine "spider legs" support the tank while a wider leg runs directly underneath with the pipe lines.
The tank stands 151 feet high and is 50 feet in diameter. When full to the brim, the tank holds half a million gallons of water.
That, however, as McMorran explained, is rarely the case. The tank is typically 80 percent full, meaning there is normally roughly 400,000 gallons of water in the tank.
"All the water comes from a well pumped out of Hampton and North Hampton," McMorran said.
The water runs through a little bit of treatment to disinfect it. Two pressure valves regulate how much water flows down to the beach, which is based on the demand of the day.
A typical water main can handle a "couple hundred gallons a minute running through it," McMorran said.
In case of a fire where lots of water is needed quickly, the tower can turn out a much larger volume. Since Hampton Beach has been fire free for the past few years, that kind of volume hasn't been necessary.
Aside from storage, the tank's elevation provides constant pressure.
"That column of water is what provides a stable water pressure throughout the whole zone served by that tank," he said.
The height may be for functional reasons, but tall towers like Hampton Beach's often become area landmarks.
"They make very good billboards," said McMorran.
Aquarion maintains the tower, but contracts out the infrequent maintenance needed. McMorran explained the tower requires a paint job once every 10 years or so, while inspections happen every five years. The contractors are the only people who scale to the top of the tank.
The turnoff for Route 101 will take you right by the water tower, providing an up close look at the Hampton landmark, but probably isn't going to catch your attention, McMorran said.
"The vast majority of people that probably drive by that tank hardly recognize it's there anymore," he said. "They just don't even think about it,"
So the next time you're rinsing sand off your feet or washing your hands, remember you can do that thanks to the Hampton Beach water tower.