Innovative Programs and Practices Make SAWS a Water Pioneer

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When it comes to thinking “outside the box,” the San Antonio Water System leads the nation in innovation – from novel water conservation programs to developing new, sustainable water resources.

Keep in mind that water was a critical factor in the founding of our city, and that it continues to be a central focus as the population grows. Nationally recognized for sustainable and responsible management, SAWS is turning to innovation and new technology to develop new water supplies for the future.

Here’s a look at a few milestones that have put SAWS on the map as a pioneer in innovation:

  • Our water conservation efforts are among the best in the nation, boasting a record-low GPCD (gallons per capita per day) of 117; that’s down by 50% over the past 35 years, even as our population increased by nearly 150%. Our use of coupons and rebates has encouraged residential customers to reduce their amount of grass or to retire their irrigation systems, all while saving them dollars and preserving our most precious resource. Our free, one-on-one consultations allow our customers to receive individualized feedback on their landscaping and irrigation systems. Together, our conservation efforts over the past 35 years have saved more than 1 trillion gallons of water.
  • Once completes, San Antonio will have the largest inland desalination plant in the country, delivering 25 million gallons of drinking water per day. The desalination process consists of a filtering process, known as reverse osmosis, which removes 99.9% of salts and minerals from the water. The plant is already up and running – pumping salty water from nearly 1,500 feet underground in the Wilcox Aquifer and treating it to produce 12 million gallons of drinking water each day.
  • San Antonio boasts the largest recycled water delivery system in the nation. The recycled water produced by SAWS water recycling centers has helped reduce demand on the drought-sensitive Edwards Aquifer. The billions of gallons of recycled water produced each year help sustain businesses, golf courses and even one of San Antonio’s most well-known attractions, the River Walk. We also recycle our biosolids to produce compost that is sold commercially, and we sell the biogas on the open market that is generated during the treatment process. San Antonio is the only U.S. city to reuse all three wastewater treatment process byproducts.
  • SAWS stores excess Edwards Aquifer drinking water during rainy times in a large-scale underground water storage facility in south Bexar County for use during our dry summers. We recently eclipsed 44 billion gallons of drinking water for future use – that’s more than half a year’s worth of water for San Antonio!

As we look to the future, when San Antonio’s population is expected to reach 3.3 million by 2070, SAWS will continue to seek original, cutting-edge solutions to fit our growing needs and ensure that our community remains waterful for years to come.

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