The product, delivered to the point of consumption, is called potable water if it meets the water quality standards required for human consumption.
The water in the supply network is maintained at positive pressure to ensure that water reaches all parts of the network, that a sufficient flow is available at every take-off point and to ensure that untreated water in the ground cannot enter the network. The water is typically pressurised by pumping the water into storage tanks constructed at the highest local point in the network. One network may have several such service reservoirs.
In small domestic systems, the water may be pressurised by a pressure vessel or even by an underground cistern (the latter however does need additional pressurizing). This eliminates the need of a water-tower or any other heightened water reserve to supply the water pressure.
These systems are usually owned and maintained by local governments, such as cities, or other public entities, but are occasionally operated by a commercial enterprise (see water privatization). Water supply networks are part of the master planning of communities, counties, and municipalities. Their planning and design requires the expertise of city planners and civil engineers, who must consider many factors, such as location, current demand, future growth, leakage, pressure, pipe size, pressure loss, fire fighting flows, etc. — using pipe network analysis and other tools.