SAWS Asks State to Allow its Reclaimed Water to Flow to Gulf Coast
Permission would support in-stream uses and benefit endangered whooping crane
San Antonio Water System asserted its leadership in water sustainability last month with a move that helps protect one of the state’s most iconic wildlife species and its habitat.
SAWS filed an application with the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ) for a "bed and banks" authorization to transport high-quality treated wastewater effluent to San Antonio Bay on the Texas gulf coast, winter home of the nation's largest flock of endangered whooping cranes.
"Approval of this application by the State of Texas would authorize SAWS to use the San Antonio River to deliver reclaimed water to the bay and coastal estuaries that support important Texas wildlife resources," said Robert R. Puente, SAWS president and CEO.
A "bed and banks" authorization would effectively dedicate SAWS' current, non-obligated flows to in-stream uses. While in transit to the coast, SAWS reclaimed water would promote a broad range of uses such as navigation, recreation, parks, game preserves, water quality protection and hydropower along the 250-mile route.
Additional future quantities of effluent would also be protected to meet future in-stream and municipal needs.
"This application supports ongoing efforts by the State of Texas and voluntary strategies developed by regional stakeholders to ensure healthy rivers, bays and estuaries," added Puente. TCEQ has previously granted SAWS a similar bed and banks authorization to support in-stream uses in the upper reaches of the San Antonio River in Brackenridge Park.
SAWS operates the largest direct recycled water system in the United States, and the city's water reclamation plants are now recognized among the nation’s best by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This system, identified by its purple distribution pipes, reclaims 25,000 acre-feet of wastewater each year for outdoor and industrial uses such as golf course irrigation, the San Antonio River Walk, and Toyota manufacturing, among others.
In addition, SAWS has a contract to provide up to 50,000 acre-feet of treated effluent for use by CPS Energy to generate San Antonio's electric power. These existing uses would not be affected by the requested authorization.
Once an environmental liability, the city's reclaimed water is now a valuable resource used to meet many competing needs. Most notably, direct reuse of reclaimed water reduces demand on the Edwards Aquifer and enhances springs which contribute flow to the Guadalupe River.
|Back to SAWS News||Next: San Antonio Key to National Award-Winning Program|