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Robert R. Puente, J.D.
Robert R. Puente was appointed San Antonio Water System's President and CEO in May 2008. As chief executive of one of the nation's largest utilities, he provides leadership in delivering water and wastewater services to more than 1.6 million consumers, developing new water resources, continuing infrastructure upgrades and building regional partnerships.
Before coming to SAWS, Puente served in the Texas House of Representatives. First elected in 1991, Puente was appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, which develops water policy for the state. He became its chairman in 2003.
As one of the policy pioneers of modern water supply management in Texas, Puente helped shape and steward key landmark regional water issues, including:
- Creation of the Edwards Aquifer Authority and subsequent resolution to the permitting structure and the endangered species impacts, saving the region more than $750 million.
- Establishment of a regional water planning and environmental flows study process.
- Promotion of a statewide focus on water conservation planning and practices for municipalities.
Since taking the helm at SAWS Puente has led the entity through many historic financial and operational successes and is often called upon to share these successes throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Notably, Puente has led the integration into SAWS of the former Bexar Metropolitan Water District, a separate utility the size of a medium city, relieving that community of imminent water shortages. Under Puente's leadership, that utility has achieve the highest bond rating in its history, while also creating a focus on efficiency and innovation that has saved millions of dollars annually.
Puente has focused on innovative partnerships, including a regional collaboration with the cities of Schertz and Seguin to develop San Antonio's largest non-Edwards Aquifer water supply to date, saving SAWS ratepayers more than $88 million. Under his leadership, SAWS entered a public-private partnership to develop a 32-mile sewer pipeline through southern Bexar County, helping to spur development in a historically limited area. Puente led the utility to work with a private company to be the first in the nation to capture methane sewer gas, previously flared off as waste, and sell it into the natural gas grid.
Since Puente has been at SAWS, the utility has earned several recognitions and awards, including the Texas Environmental Excellence Award, Top Workplace Award three years in a row, a Business Opportunity Diversity Award as well as several other operational awards and recognitions.
In 1979, Puente received a bachelor's degree in political science from St. Mary's University. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from The University of Texas School of Law in 1982. Prior to joining SAWS, he practiced law as a private attorney and managed his own firm since 1983.
Puente is married to Carmen Muñiz Puente. They have three children.