The Water System

When you turn on the faucet in your kitchen or bathroom – water comes out. What makes it do that? Although it is simple to turn the faucet, the process of making water come out is a little more complicated.

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A Focus On Reliability
Our water distribution system is very reliable. A big reason for that level of reliability is our water towers. Water towers come in many shapes and sizes but they all do the same thing: maintain water pressure in the service area of the tower. Water towers are tall to provide pressure. Oak Forest's water towers are tall enough to maintain the distribution system's three pressure zones between 50 and 75 PSI. These tall water columns maintain the pressure that pushes the water out of your faucets.

How much water is stored in a water tower? The typical swimming pool in someone's backyard may hold 15,000 to 25,000 gallons (which is a lot of water!). We have four water towers ranging in size from 250,000 gallons at the Briar Street tower (right) to 500,000 gallons at each of the other three towers. When you add it all up, that's 1.75 million gallons of water stored in the city's water towers.

Our Towers
The Oak Park Avenue tower is a hydro-pillar type water tower located at 155th and Oak Park Avenue. This tower can store up to 500,000 gallons, 122' tall, and maintains system pressure on the west side of town.

The Kilbourn and Lockwood Avenue towers are spheroid type water towers. Each can store up to 500,000 gallons, over 100' tall, and maintain system pressure in the Fieldcrest Subdivision/Kilbourn Ave., Industrial Park and the Gingerwood Subdivision/south of 167th Street.

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Advantages of Water Towers
One of the big advantages of the water towers is that it allows the city to shut off the pumps at the main pumping station. But will I have water at my house if the pumps are off? Yes!

Saving Electricity
When the water towers are full, the pumps at the city's main pumping and booster stations shut down. The elevated towers work via gravity and the water stored in them flows down to ground level into the distribution grid – providing the water supply and the pressure needed to deliver it to your home.

When the water tower in your neighborhood drains down and reaches a set water level (usually half-full), the city's computer control system starts the pumps at the main pumping/booster stations to maintain the water levels in the tower. This saves money and electricity as pumps are used only when needed.

Lower Insurance Rates
Another interesting fact about water towers -- they can affect your insurance rates. Through the professional efforts of the fire department and Public Works Department, the city maintains a Class 3 ISO Rating.