Most of the media coverage surrounding the Vista Ridge project has focused on the 142-mile pipeline that will transport water from Burleson County to San Antonio. But so far very little has been said about what happens at the beginning and end of that pipeline. That untold tale, ironically, involves two communities named San Antonio.
Deep in the black dirt farmlands southwest of Caldwell lies a sleepy little dot on the map dubbed San Antonio Prairie. To call it a town would be an overstatement. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the community boasted just 15 residents in the mid-1960s, the most recent count on record.
Other than the Highway 21 Food Mart, a historic cemetery and a handful of farm and drilling support businesses, there’s not much to see.
But just two miles or so from the blinking yellow light you’ll find a hubbub of action that will help secure a different San Antonio’s water future for decades to come.
Known by the utilitarian name High Service Pump Station, the modest size of this construction zone — situated just off a dogleg bend in a two-lane farm road — belies its importance to the nation’s seventh most populous city.
Despite its out-of-this-world look, this is not a spacecraft prop left over from a 1950s sci-fi thriller. It’s a 4-million-gallon ground storage tank that will collect water from the surrounding well field prior to its journey southwestward to the other San Antonio. The pump station itself will be built in the area just beyond the tank, along with other supporting structures.
At the other end of the 142-mile pipeline-in-progress lies the descriptively-if-not-cleverly-named Terminus Site. As the moniker implies, this is the end of the line for Vista Ridge water arriving in North San Antonio. Located in the Stone Oak area about a mile west of U.S. 281 North, the site is being leveled and prepped for construction of storage tanks, pumps and other infrastructure needed to receive the incoming water and send it back out on the next leg of its journey: to sinks and showers throughout the SAWS service area.
Unlike French Revolution-era Paris in the Dickens novel, there really is no “worst of times” for either community in this modern tale of two cities. “Big” San Antonio is just two years away from delivering the largest non-Edwards Aquifer water supply in its history. And tiny San Antonio Prairie is benefitting from a boom in construction and related boosts to the local economy — certainly “the best of times” for all.