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Out of sight, out of mind.
It can be easy to forget there’s water and wastewater infrastructure that lies beneath the surface – but there’s much more than meets the eye.
While the city works, lives, and plays above ground, underneath San Antonio, there’s a vast network of pipes, water wells, pumps, and storage tanks that are managed, inspected, and cleaned 24/7 by San Antonio Water System. This intricate highway of underground pipes has a multi-tasking purpose of delivering quality drinking water to homes and businesses, recycled water to commercial businesses, and providing sewer services, which is also discreetly disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.
To ensure San Antonio’s pipes work to provide sewer services, clean drinking water, and recycled water to commercial businesses, San Antonio Water System manages, inspects, and cleans more than 12,000 miles of underground water and sewer pipes, which is equivalent to the distance from South Texas to Australia.
Continually investing in the city’s infrastructure keeps SAWS services flowing.
Earlier this year, SAWS proactively undertook a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to meet the city’s long-term needs that includes investing $2 billion over the next five years for the repair and preventative maintenance of the city’s aging water and sewer infrastructure.
The newest CIP project to be completed was a 45-mile pipeline – dubbed the “integration pipeline” – that adds water management flexibility to SAWS’ massive underground water storage in southern Bexar County to simultaneously produce, store, and recover water. This allows the water utility to direct its diverse water supplies where they are needed most in the system, ensuring dependability.
“Investing customer dollars in water infrastructure not only improves service to SAWS ratepayers but also protects the environment and our community,” said Gavino Ramos, vice president of communications and external affairs. “SAWS is committed to working hard to ensure a reliable and resilient water system for the future.”
In addition to the current water and sewer infrastructure, SAWS is proactively in working with critical city industries in an effort to meet their growing needs. Last year, in an agreement with Joint Base San Antonio, SAWS provided water and new infrastructure to our military bases to further shield them from potential base closures. In all, SAWS provides a combined 20,450 feet of pipeline to local military installations.
Addressing maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure is not just a San Antonio issue but a national one. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified national infrastructure investment needs for drinking water ($384 billion) and wastewater improvements ($271 billion) that total $655 billion to keep our country’s water and sewer infrastructure updated.
Maintaining and planning for reliable water and sewer infrastructure helps make San Antonio Waterful. Learn more at saws.org/waterful.