Is It Illegal To Climb A Water Tower?

A few buddies and I were out wondering this small little town and decided to send one of our friends up the water tower when we were in maybe 8th grade? At the time the only thing in our mind is how we would climb it and not fall off, not that it potentially could be illegal. Though my buddy only got 3 steps up, I never figured out if climbing a water was illegal or not. So I’ve done some digging and this is what I have found out!

While the act of climbing the water tower itself isn’t illegal, it’s the trespassing on the cities property that will get you in trouble. Almost all cities have laws against trespassing on city property, which is enforced by local authorities. Climbing a water tower is considered trespassing and is therefore illegal in most cases.

If you’re about to climb a water tower keep reading, maybe this will help with your decision making process.

Why Is Climbing A Water Tower Illegal?

There are a few different reasons why climbing a water tower is illegal.

For one, it is considered trespassing on city property. Trespassing in this scenario means you’re entering the cities property and were not given permission beforehand to go onto to. This is a punishable offense and is illegal in almost every city.

Additionally, climbing a water tower is considered dangerous for several reasons. For one, the water towers are tall and often very unstable. This can make it easy to fall and potentially hurt yourself or others around you if you slip or lose your footing by accident.

What Are The Penalties For Climbing A Water Tower?

The penalties for climbing a water tower can vary depending on the situation. Typically, you will be fined if caught trespassing, and the amount of the fine is at the discretion of local authorities.

An example of this is in Auburn NY, where the city states you could get up to a $500 fine for being caught on city property without direct permission.

In some extreme cases, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or even felony charge.

Safety Concerns Around Climbing A Water Tower

Not only is it potentially illegal to be climbing a water tower, there are a few serious concerns for safety if you decide to climb up.

These could be:

  • Falling Risk: The water tower is often tall and unsteady, making it easy to lose your footing or slip. Falling from a height can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are not wearing proper safety equipment.
  • Environmental Hazards: Depending on where the water tower is located, there may also be environmental hazards that could impact your health. For example, if the water is contaminated in any way, you could be at risk for exposure or illness.

How To Climb A Water Tower Safely

Now, if you’re debating on actually climbing a water tower there are a few things I need you to take before actually climbing.

  • Asking Permission: The first step is to ask permission to climb. If you don’t have permission, then it is technically illegal and is not worth the risk.
  • Safety Gear: Before climbing a water tower, it is important to wear proper safety gear, such as a helmet or other protective equipment. This can help prevent injuries if something were to go wrong.
  • Neighborhood Awareness: It is also important to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you are in a residential or urban neighborhood. By being mindful of those around you, you can help minimize any potential risks associated with climbing a water tower.

Though the most important part of these is asking permission. If you don’t have permission don’t go up the water tower. It’ll only lead to bad things from there on out.


If you’re thinking about climbing a water tower, it is important to consider the potential legal and safety risks. While there is no outright ban on climbing water towers in most cases, you could be fined or even face criminal charges if caught trespassing on city property. Additionally, there are safety concerns with these structures that should be taken into account before attempting to climb a water tower.