SAWS Invites Deluge of Community Input to Livestream

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Rows of vessels treat the brackish water through seven columns of water purifying membranes.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

Rows of vessels treat the brackish water through seven columns of water-purifying membranes at the H2Oaks desalination plant.

San Antonio Water System Vice President of Water Resources and Governmental Relations Donovan Burton will host a Facebook Live discussion about the city’s proposed Water Management Plan on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Water Management Plan, which looks out over the next 50 years, is updated every five years to keep up with changing population growth figures. SAWS currently serves more than 1.8 million people and expects to serve 3.3 million by 2070.

The current plan aims to expand and sustain water resources for the coming decades while decreasing per person demand and increasing efficient use. Thursday’s Facebook Live event will be the second time SAWS has streamed conversation about the plan to the public.

Because of the crucial role that individual and community action plays in SAWS’ plan, the utility is looking for input from the public, officials stated in a news release. SAWS customers are invited to submit questions and comments about the Water Management Plan during the livestream on SAWS’ Facebook page. The broadcast will be available for replay afterward and commenting will stay open. Additionally, comments can be submitted to SAWS by email through Aug. 15 to WMP-input@saws.org.

SAWS will continue discussing the plan with various community groups, and will present the plan to the San Antonio City Council on August 2. Then, once any additions or amendments from public input have been made, the plan will be presented for approval to the SAWS board on September 12.

To see a full draft of the current Water Management Plan, click here.

The first part of the plan relies on diversifying water sources to lessen dependence on the Edward’s Aquifer, from 48% in 2017 to 36% in 2070.

The SAWS H2Oaks Center in South Bexar County features a desalination plant able to convert 12 million gallons of water a day, designed for a two-phase expansion that would more than double its output.

The center is also home to the largest groundwater based Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) facility in the United States. The ASR allows excess water from Edwards Aquifer during times of surplus to be stored in the Carrizo Aquifer in South Bexar County for use during drought or times of high demand.

SAWS has one functional pipeline from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Gonzales County, east of San Antonio, and is building another, the controversial Vista Ridge Pipeline, from Burleson County to the Northeast. The Gonzales pipeline is currently the second largest water source for San Antonio behind Edward’s Aquifer. Once completed in 2020, the Vista Ridge Pipeline will become the largest non-Edward’s Aquifer water source, supplying 20% of SAWS’ demands. After this pipeline is operational, SAWS’ supply inventory will increase from nine to 16 different sources, creating a stable network of incoming water.

The Water Management Plan also requires an overall decrease in water use by the community. The plan’s goals are expressed in terms of gallons per capita per day (GPCD). Currently, San Antonio uses around 125 GPCD. The plan aims to lower that by 30%, to 88 GPCD by 2070.

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