SAWS: Facts & History
Aquifer Beaker

Edwards Aquifer

Aquifer Level 680.7'
4/19/19 - Official

The Edwards aquifer and its catchment area in the San Antonio region is about 8,000 square miles and includes all or part of 13 counties in south-central Texas.

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Year-Round Watering Hours

Watering with an irrigation system or sprinkler is allowed any day of the week before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

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Aquifer Level 680.7 | Year-Round Watering Hours

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Mitchell Lake

Facts & History

  • Mitchell Lake has a surface area covering approximately 600 acres with an average water depth of less than 8 feet. It is located in southern Bexar County and was purchased by the City of San Antonio in 1901. It is currently operated and managed by San Antonio Water System.
  • Aerial view of Mitchell Lake.
    Aerial view of Mitchell Lake.
    Historically, Spanish settlers in the early 1700s used the lake as a watering hole for cattle and called the area "Laguna de los Patos" or "Lake of the Ducks."
  • In the late 1800s, the site was owned by the Mitchell family  and was popular for waterfowl hunting. The marshy setting provided a quality riparian habitat.
  • Shortly after the turn of the century, the lake was purchased by the City of San Antonio and a dam was constructed to create one of the earliest centralized wastewater treatment facilities for the City.
  • In the late 1930s, the Rilling Road Wastewater Treatment Plant was built upstream of the lake to handle increased capacity and to improve effluent water quality. The Rilling Road Wastewater Plant continued to discharge into the lake until 1987 when Dos Rios Water Treatment Plant went operational.
  • The City started efforts to reclaim the area in 1973 by declaring the lake a refuge for shore birds and waterfowl.
  • After 1987, in order to maintain the water level in the lake and safeguard the habitat, SAWS began supplementing natural flow into the lake with water from Leon Creek Water Recycling Center. This practice continues to the present day.
  • In the early 1990s an engineering analysis of the lake's water quality and the dam structure was prepared to assess the current conditions. The results of these studies indicated no hazardous materials and lake water quality was within standards set by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC).
  • Since 1992, SAWS has conducted extensive planning for the development of Mitchell Lake and the surrounding area. These studies include: development of a managed wetland for waterfowl and shore bird ecosystem; the use of the lake water for irrigation of the adjacent Mission Del Lago Golf Course; continued water quality assessment of the lake by SAWS staff; and the San Antonio River Authority and local consultants and conceptual design of amenities for continued lake area use by the public for education and research.
  • In 1998, SAWS Board created the Mitchell Lake Task Force to partner with SAWS staff and an outside consulting team to oversee a master planning process and make recommendations.

  • Onlookers cheered as the Leeper House moved down Austin Highway en route to its new home at Mitchell Lake.
    Onlookers cheered as the Leeper House moved down Austin Highway en route to its new home at Mitchell Lake.
    SAWS actively solicited input from diverse stakeholder groups including the San Antonio Audubon Society, the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society and the Southside Chamber of Commerce.
  • Following 42 public meetings and nearly two years of additional research, the Task Force completed development of the Mitchell Lake Master Implementation Plan in April 2000.
  • In December 2002, SAWS Board committed $1.5 million to improve roads and bridges on the property and to build a visitor's center.
  • The historic Leeper House was relocated from the McNay Art Museum to the site in May 2003, where it has undergone extensive rennovations for use as a vistor's center.