Water may cover 71% of the earth, but it is water trucks that often bring that water to the locations where it is most needed. From tamping down dust at construction sites to creating artificial rain and slick streets for Hollywood cameras, water trucks offer a mobile solution for bulk water needs.
Water trucks are comprised of three components:
• A rig for the driver in the front, which also houses all operating controls for the disbursement of water.
• A tank at the back in different sizes with varying water-holding capacities (anywhere between 500-5,000 gallons).
• Pumping equipment with spray nozzles mounted on the front, rear, or side of the tank.
We spoke to Chip Howard, Product Manager at Custom Truck One Source, the nation’s largest provider of heavy equipment, to know more about the water trucks built by their subsidiary manufacturing company Load King.
Excerpts from the interview:
What kind of water trucks does Custom Truck sell and rent?
We sell and rent the Load King 2,000 gallon, the Load King 4,000 gallon and some with a 2,500-gallon capacity as well.
Tell us more about the Load King water trucks.
Built with A36 steel in a modified ellipse shape, the Load King 2,000 gallon water truck's tank shell measures 98″ long x 98″ wide x 64.75″ tall. The larger model, Load King 4,000 gallon water truck, measures 198″ long x 96″ wide x 64.75″ tall.
Our customers can purchase or rent water trucks on a variety of chassis brands and models.
How does Custom Truck beat competitors in the water truck market with the Load King models?
Most of our competitors do not put in the expensive spray heads that we do. Ours are individually air-controlled, when a lot of them you see on other models aren’t.
Second, we use a Berkeley style pump which performs both suction and discharge. (In other words, you can both output and intake water.) Most of our competitors will offer this only upon specification. On Load King water trucks, this feature is standard. Our baffles (walls inside the tank that discourage water from surging from side to side and front to back) are located in very strategic places. Plus, we install a variety of add-ons that our competitors don’t.
One would imagine that rectangular tanks would carry more water and be easier to manufacture in large scales, right?
In the case of liquid transport, however, this logic does not hold true for a variety of reasons:
Any job that involves excavation raises dust. In a large-scale construction or mining operation, the dust may become unmanageable, making work difficult and posing health threats (eye and lung irritation, asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, etc.) for workers. Trucks are the most efficient source of water to suppress the dust being kicked up by such earthmoving activities.
Compaction is another task that water trucks perform during construction projects. Soil compaction is necessary to create flat, even ground on which roads and buildings can be built. Too much water can make the ground sludgy, while too little will not allow the soil particles to adhere to each other. With the control mechanisms installed on these trucks, an optimal amount of water can be added for strong and stable compaction.
Using water trucks for irrigation is obviously a temporary relief measure. But when droughts hit, and crops are dying, they are the easiest way to transport water to arid fields until the dry spell is over.
The popularity of using water trucks in farming started, in the United States, during the big drought in the Midwest and West Coast of the country between 2011 and 2016. California, for example, was grappling with the most intense drought period in the history of the state. The central valley area was hit especially hard, and it’s typically one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, growing more than half the country’s produce. Livestock, too, was in peril during this water shortage.
Water trucks, which until then were mostly used at construction and mining job sites, proved indispensable in dealing with the crisis. Since then, their usefulness in managing dry spells has made the farming sector a growing market for this equipment.
Water trucks are used both proactively and reactively in firefighting, especially in rural areas where there are no fire hydrants or other ready sources of water. Besides assistance in putting out fires, they are also utilized to dampen fire-prone areas that would likely be consumed in the blaze.
Bulk water delivery companies use trucks to carry water wherever they are needed – to fill swimming pools or landscape bodies of water, for example. They are especially popular in areas under drought control or residential properties that are subsisting on un-treated well water. Instead of waiting several days for hoses to fill a pool, water trucks bring in potable water, and the job is done quickly and without exhausting or damaging the water pump.
Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, often leave communities stranded without safe drinking water. While emergency management work is going on to rehabilitate the community, water trucks are called in to provide drinking water wherever they are needed.
• To avoid accidents, make sure that the ground area around a standing truck is not oversaturated with the truck’s water. Turning individual sprays on and programming in output intervals can minimize risk of oversaturation.
• Trucks with rounded water tanks should not be filled completely, as that can make the vehicle unstable when travelling on roads.
• In order to build up sufficient air pressure for the vacuum brakes to work well, warm up the water truck before use.
• To minimize water surges that can upset the truck’s center of gravity, adjust your speed very carefully and smoothly when changing lanes, cornering, or accelerating/decelerating.