Water, the single most important resource for supporting communities around the globe, is harnessed and distributed through an intricate network of water storage tanks. Whether it’s for residential, industrial, municipal, or commercial use, water is used in countless ways, many of which we rarely actually see. The United States alone uses 327 billion gallons of surface water every day. But where does this water come from?
An enormous amount of usable surface water is kept in water storage tanks. The global market for water storage systems is estimated at $16.5 billion USD and projected to reach $25.1 billion by 2027. Inspecting these tanks is imperative for structurally sound, clean, and safe water for power, agriculture, mining, and household use. Without routine inspections, issues can arise quickly and sediment can build, compromising the integrity and cleanliness of the water
From safeguarding potable water for daily consumption to aiding in agricultural irrigation and bolstering emergency preparedness, water storage tanks play a diverse and essential role in meeting our water needs across a wide spectrum of applications and settings. The choice of material depends on factors like the intended use, cost, location, and the properties of the stored water.
Depending on factors such as budget, environmental considerations, and intended use, various water storage tank options are available, each with its own set of advantages and considerations.
Fiberglass tanks are becoming increasingly popular in modern settings. Compared to steel and aluminum, fiberglass is not subject to corrosion or rust. Weighing much less than concrete, fiberglass boasts a respectable strength-to-weight ratio. This makes it an excellent cost-effective option for both installation and long term water tank maintenance. Fiberglass tanks are commonly used for a variety of commercial settings, and can easily be coated for potable water storage.
Fiberglass tanks can be installed both above ground and underground. Underground installation allows for a large amount of water storage, without affecting the usability of the ground topside. These tanks can be completely covered, using a manhole style access point for inspections.
Just as the name suggests, pillow tanks resemble that of a standard pillow. These tanks can be constructed of a variety of materials to store potable water, wastewater, stormwater, gray water, etc. Their flexible design allows the tank to collapse down for simple transport, with smaller models capable of fitting into a backpack. Commonly used for farms, tree nurseries, firefighting, and military bases, pillow tanks can range from 25 gallons up to an impressive 210,000 gallons.
Concrete is the heaviest of material options for storage tanks; however, it is also one of the most versatile. Concrete is in large supply all around the globe, making it an affordable and readily available option for most builds. Additionally, since concrete is a poor conductor of heat, it helps regulate water temperatures in hot climates.
Concrete tanks can be molded to countless shapes depending on the project, and typically last up to 50 years with proper maintenance. However, once degradation sets in, concrete is prone to cracking and has a relatively complex repair process. These tanks are popular permanent storage systems for potable water, rainwater, stormwater, or sewage.
As the largest storage tank options, bolted steel tanks can be built to hold millions of gallons of water. Although steel can be subject to corrosion, there are treatment options available to avoid this and extend the lifespan up to 40 years. These massive tanks are capable of safely storing potable water, and are best suited for large-scale permanent storage solutions. These projects can include the storage of city drinking water, fire protection, wastewater storage, or crude oil storage.
Stainless steel water tanks are popular for their safety and durability in both commercial and residential storage. Stainless steel can handle a wide range of temperatures, doesn’t rust, and will not degrade in UV light. Typically used for small-mid size projects due to pricing, stainless steel tanks are commonly used for potable water and beverage production.
Steel tanks were some of the first renditions of modern water storage. Costing considerably less than its stainless counterpart, galvanized steel is a viable option for lower budget or short-term projects. Since steel corrodes and rusts, it’s integral to have an interior poly lining to protect the material. Even with this poly lining, steel tanks can expect a lifespan of 10 - 20 years. Following a dedicated and cautious inspection process helps maintain the integrity of the lining. Any direct water exposure to the steel tank will induce corrosion and rust.
A carbon welded water storage tank is a robust and reliable vessel designed for the long-term storage of water. These tanks are constructed using carbon steel panels that are welded together to form a durable and watertight container. Carbon steel is known for its strength and resistance to corrosion, making it an ideal material choice for applications requiring secure and dependable water storage.
These tanks come in various sizes and configurations, catering to a wide range of industrial, commercial, and municipal needs. Whether used to store potable water, industrial liquids, or for firefighting purposes, carbon welded water storage tanks are known for their durability and ability to meet stringent storage requirements.
A folding water storage tank is a versatile and portable solution for temporary or emergency water storage needs. Unlike traditional rigid water storage tanks, these innovative containers are designed to be collapsible, making them easy to transport, set up, and store when not in use.
Folding water storage tanks find utility in a range of situations, from disaster relief efforts and remote camping trips to military deployments and construction sites. Their flexibility and efficiency in providing a temporary water source make them a valuable resource in diverse scenarios and remote areas where it is difficult to maintain water supply.
A water storage tower differs from conventional tanks due to its elevation, utilizing gravity to create hydrostatic pressure for efficient water distribution. Typically constructed of steel, these towers boast lifespans exceeding 100 years, making them pivotal in municipal water supply systems.
Standpipe water towers are generally the simplest design for elevated water storage at lower capacities. These ground supported structures resemble, as the name suggests, a standing pipe. This simple design lends itself to a lower upfront cost and a small footprint option for storing large amounts of water. A standpipe design does come with its setbacks though. Due to the high surface area to volume ratio, water temperatures are dramatically affected by weather conditions, resulting in issues with water quality, or thermal stratification.
Composite water towers are a popular choice for large storage projects over 500,000 gallons due to their efficient, stable, and aesthetically suited design for North American cities. Their design is based on a steel tank which is supported by a slimmer concrete pedestal which contains an internal storage and ladder system. The combination of concrete for a foundation structure and steel for water retention is ideal for keeping long-term maintenance costs down, however it can be costly and time consuming during initial construction.
Spheroid water tanks are ideally suited for mid size storage between 200,000 and 500,000 gallons. Their design resembles a large sphere supported by either a single or multiple thin legs or pedestales. Similarly to a composite tower, a sphere or spheroid tower benefits from its shape by sheltering much of its water volume from weather conditions, however they generally have no internal storage or ladder system inside the thinner foundation.
Proper maintenance and sanitation is crucial to ensure the stored water remains safe for its intended use, particularly in cases where the water is used for drinking or cooking. Identifying potential issues such as leaks, contamination, structural damage, or deteriorating materials is crucial to preserving water quality and mitigating health risks. Timely inspections also facilitate maintenance and repairs, preventing costly damages and ensuring the longevity of the water tank.
In the domain of water storage, where the integrity of the stored water directly impacts public health, ongoing inspections play a pivotal role. Whether the water serves residential, industrial, or municipal needs, the importance of maintaining water quality cannot be overstated. Regular inspections act as a proactive measure, addressing issues before they escalate, ensuring the availability of clean and dependable water.
Similarly to other assets, being on top of tank inspections will reduce long-term costs by properly prioritizing repair and replacement schedules. If left unattended, many common tank materials are subject to corrosion, cracking, or rusting. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recommends that potable water towers be inspected every 3 to 5 years, although most tank cleaning specialists will recommend getting your tank professionally cleaned and serviced at least once a year and once every six months for drinking water. Additionally, many tank manufacturers offer warranties on the condition that tanks are inspected regularly.
Beyond the tank itself, potable water tank inspections are crucial for good water maintenance. Over time, sediment can gather and collect along the bottom of tanks. If in small amounts, sediment has no impact on the quality of the water or on the structural integrity of the storage tank. However, over time as that sediment builds up and mixes into thicker ‘sludge’ material, issues begin to arise.
These negative effects can result in health concerns for potable water, or tank material degradation from the concentrated substances. Tank manufacturers generally recommend a minimum of one inspection and subsequent cleaning per annum. This is to ensure long-term integrity, extend the tank life, and avoid costly repairs.
Water tank contamination can occur due to various factors that compromise the quality and safety of stored water. These contaminants can range from microbiological agents like bacteria, viruses, and algae to physical impurities such as sediment, debris, and chemical pollutants. Contamination can result from inadequate tank maintenance, poor sanitation practices, cross-contamination during filling, or the tank's deterioration over time.
Understanding the causes of water tank contamination is crucial for implementing preventive measures and ensuring that the water remains safe for its intended use, whether for drinking, industrial processes, or irrigation.
Water tanks should be protected from unauthorized access or from animals, to prevent accidental damage to the stored water and tank itself.
Whether by humans, animals, or acts of nature, physical damage can pose significant risk to water security. Damaged vents or screens can allow for the entrance of aquatic organisms into the water system.
Small levels of mineral sediment in water tanks are common and can be safe; however, if left untreated, ‘sludge’ buildup can result in issues. If allowed to settle inside a tank for extended periods, sludge can wear away interior linings and induce corrosion or rusting on steel tanks. Additionally, sedimentation can attract pathogenic micro-organisms which can compromise water safety.
Stagnant or motionless water can result in the production of biofilm, which is an ideal host for insects, and crustaceans, or dangerous waterborne pathogens. To combat this, water tanks should implement a mixing system. These systems work to circulate different layers of the stored water to avoid stratification of surface and bottom water.
Ultimately, understanding the causes of water tank contamination can help reduce maintenance costs, since proactive maintenance is much more cost effective than repair work, and prolongs the lifespan of tanks, as rust, corrosion, and bacteria do not build up and degrade the tank faster.
The utilization of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) has brought about a paradigm shift in the assessment of water tank integrity and the preservation of stored water quality. Equipped with advanced cameras and sensors, ROVs provide a non-invasive and highly efficient method for evaluating tank conditions, especially in challenging or hazardous environments.
This technology empowers inspectors to navigate confined spaces within water tanks remotely, capturing real-time data and identifying issues such as corrosion, leaks, and contamination without the need for costly and time-consuming manual entry. The use of ROVs in water tank inspections not only elevates safety standards but also ensures more accurate and timely maintenance, ultimately contributing to the sustained availability of clean and dependable water supplies.
Deep Trekker ROVs stand as indispensable tools, purpose-built for versatility across various applications and industries. Constructed with industrial-grade materials such as stainless steel, anodized machined aluminum, and protected by carbon fiber, these ROVs exhibit exceptional durability, capable of withstanding the rigors of the most challenging environments.
Easily portable and quick to deploy with minimal setup requirements, Deep Trekker ROVs save valuable time. Boasting powerful LED lights, a live 4K video feed for informed decision-making, a 360-degree field of view for comprehensive assessments, imaging sonar for enhanced underwater visibility, and integration with sampling tools and manipulators, these ROVs excel in the harshest environments
Our team of experienced industry professionals is ready to offer expert guidance and address any inquiries related to the seamless integration of submersible robots into diverse projects. Whether for water tank inspections and cleaning, salvage operations, underwater inspections, search and recovery, aquaculture, environmental monitoring, or any other application, we are committed to supporting you in understanding how Deep Trekker ROVs can precisely meet your unique requirements
When you're ready to secure your Deep Trekker vehicle, contact us for a customized quote tailored precisely to your needs. With Deep Trekker ROVs as integral components of your diving operations, you can achieve unparalleled safety, efficiency, and success in your underwater projects.