SAUK RAPIDS -- Standing anywhere from 150 to 200 feet tall, the water towers in the area provide water pressure for the cities they serve.

Craig Nelson is the Director of Public Utilities for the city of Sauk Rapids. He says their height is important because every 2.3 feet of elevated water causes one pound of


"The towers need to be up high enough to get substantial water pressure to everyone in the area," says Nelson.

The steel structure isn't too complex, containing piping, electric panels and a ladder that leads to one place -- up.

Each city has multiple water towers, roughly holding 500-thousand-gallons of water in the dome portion.

"There is a pipe that runs top to bottom, and that's where the water will get pumped up and down," says Nelson.

Maintenance is pretty low, aside from changing a few light bulbs, checking for leaks and coating.

"In the winter we check for ice build up, but the main things we have to take care of is the interior and exterior coating," says Nelson. "That helps make sure the tower doesn't rust."

Every city has at least one water tower they call their signature. For Sauk Rapids it's their famous balloon tower that was built in the 1980s.

"The council at the time thought it looked like a balloon so they spent the extra money to make it look like a balloon and have it their signature for the town," says Nelson.

Sauk Rapids has two elevated towers and one ground storage tank. The two elevated towers supply water to the North and East sides of the town.


The ladder inside the Sauk Rapids water tower that leads 170 feet up to the top. (PHOTO: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)