Funding Assistance and Water System Improvements for a Small Eastern Virginia Community

The Town of Port Royal is an historic Virginia port town settled in the mid-1600s and chartered in 1744. Set along the Rappahannock River in eastern Virginia, the small community—126 residents according to the 2010 census—has been using an antiquated water system originally installed in 1942 with subsequent distribution system extensions in 1986 and 2004, tank replacement in 1967, and the addition of a second well in 1993. Years of neglect resulted in physical deterioration of the water system and led to several deficiencies being noted during regular inspections by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). After a Notice of Violation in 2014, there was serious consideration of selling the system to a private company, which caused concerns for some town council members. One of the residents was tasked with identifying available funding so that the town could maintain ownership. In 2015, we partnered with the town to assist with securing funding from the VDH Office of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program, and ultimately designed a new system for Port Royal without requiring the community to spend more than it could afford.

Considering Cost and Future Expansion Opportunities

A critical component of designing the new system was identifying improvements that minimized costs for the town’s continued operation and maintenance of the system, and designing a layout that allowed future expansion. The project consisted of several improvements to the town’s aging water system in order to address deficiencies. The design included replacing the existing 21,000-gallon elevated water storage tank with a 26,000-gallon above-ground storage tank, installing a new 20-by-20-foot precast building to house two booster pumps and two bladder tanks, installing a generator for emergency standby power, demolishing the existing elevated tank, replacing and upsizing approximately 5,000 linear feet of waterline in the distribution system, and installing new water services and meter assemblies.

As seen in this image on the right, the old elevated water tank was rusted and structurally unsound. We designed the new 26,000-gallon tank seen in blue, as well as the 20-by-20-foot building, which houses booster pumps and bladder tanks.

Local Understanding

Over the course of four years, we became a part of the community of Port Royal to truly understand their water system needs, design a system that would best meet those needs and stay within a reasonable budget, and deliver a new water system that would serve them for generations to come.


The new digitized system allows operators to monitor and adjust pressure.

  • Heather Campbell
    Heather Campbell
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