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Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

Opinion: Permit Requirements for Municipal Water Towers/Tanks/Reservoirs





Permit Requirements for Municipal Water Towers/Tanks/Reservoirs

Code Reference:

2007 Minnesota State Building Code

Authored by:

Thomas C. Anderson, State Building Official

Issue Date:

March 3, 2008


Are municipal water towers, water tanks and/or water reservoirs subject to permit requirements as set forth by the Minnesota State Building Code?

If so, are there any exceptions that apply?


It is the opinion of CCLD that building permit requirements, as set forth in the Minnesota State Building Code, are applicable to the construction of municipal water towers as well as for other municipal water tanks and reservoirs, whether constructed below ground, at grade, or as a raised tower.

The only exception to this requirement would be for water tanks supported directly on upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.

CCLD Commentary

When reviewing the purpose of the Minnesota State Building Code (MSBC 1300.0030), one can quickly see that the premise of the entire code is to safeguard the public's health, safety, and welfare from the hazards that exist through the built environment.

In addition, under the scoping provisions of the Minnesota State Building Code (MSBC 1300.0040), one will also see that the code is generally intended to apply to all buildings and structures built outside of what is generally known as the "public right-of-way," or subsequently, on properties normally considered to be "private property." Although this section references "public utility towers and poles," we believe that this reference is intended to apply to and exempt only those utility towers and poles that are used for things such as electrical and/or communication utility cables and lines, not municipal water towers, reservoirs, or tanks.

Because municipal water towers, water tanks and/or water reservoir types of structures are usually "city projects," it is recognized that in many instances, there is additional involvement and oversight provided by a City Engineer and/or an outside engineering consultant - all of whom are working to provide for standards to safeguard public health and safety and the interests of the city. With this in mind, we believe the building official should be considered an integral part of this process, working in concert with others involved to assure that public health and safety is maintained while working as a team to avoid overlap of duties and duplication of effort. The State Building Code is the minimum construction standard to safeguard the built environment, therefore there should be an expectation from within city administration that all relevant staff be included in the construction of a municipal water tower or tank, including the building official.

Through the building permit process, the Building Official, working cooperatively with other city staff and consultants should assure code compliance in meeting public safety expectations as well as the expectations of the city as owner of the structure.

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