The buzzards flying around the Town of Port Royal’s water tower were not happy. On Tuesday morning, their lofty nests on top of the tower were torn down, along with the rusted steel frame and tank that has been a visual landmark in the town since 1942.

It took the town about five years to plan and build a new water supply system, but it took less than one hour for the mechanics with Iseler Demolition of Port Hope, Mich., to take down the town’s outdated 21,000-gallon, elevated storage tank.

“We have had three mayors and three town managers that have worked on this project,” said Alex Long, the town’s mayor. “And this water tower was still in operation three weeks ago.”

The water tower was demolished and replaced with a 26,000-gallon atmospheric ground storage tank with two booster pumps and two bladder tanks housed in a new 20-by-20-foot precast building.

Long said the water system was failing because of mismanagement and lack of proper financial management over the years. The Virginia Department of Health’s inspection of the tower said the storage tank was not water-tight—which potentially could cause contamination—and structurally unsound.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.4 million. The town received $800,000 in grant money from U.S. Department of Agriculture. Town residents agreed to pay higher water bills to shoulder their part of the financial responsibility, and Caroline County agreed to annex the town and gained 337 acres for additional revenues.

“It’s exciting to have a modern water system,” said Elizabeth Heimbach, who was watching the tower demolition. “Port Royal is rising.”

The U.S. Army built the original tower structure, whose wooden water tank was replaced in 1960. The water tower was needed for Fort A. P. Hill in nearby Caroline County, where troops were trained for World War II. Steel was rationed and used to build tanks, ships and aircraft.

“Presently, the new system and tanks are delivering water to citizens and businesses,” Long said. “After the elevated water tank is removed, and other site work done, the project will be completed.”

The Town Council is planning an official ceremony later this year.

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