As of December 2022, SAWS continues to meet all required milestones of the Consent Decree. SAWS is currently implementing the remedial measures plan by awarding and executing construction contracts.  SAWS will continue best practices after the Consent Decree is complete to ensure proper management of the utility’s sewer system assets.

For years, SAWS has implemented an ongoing sewer spill reduction program. That effort has resulted in a 70 percent reduction in the number of spills from their peak.

The work required to comply with the consent decree includes system wide inspection along with cleaning and evaluation of sewer pipelines. Also required are the targeted replacement and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. The work is tailored specifically to the 5,200 miles of pipe in the SAWS sewer system (mileage as specified in the 2013 Consent Decree), avoiding unnecessary costs, and focusing on the causes of sewer spills in San Antonio.

 Clean Pipes– The majority of sewer spills in San Antonio are caused by fats, oil, grease, and debris (such as consumer wipes, plastic packaging, and gravel). Regularly scheduled inspections, cleaning, and emergency repairs will continue 24 hours per day/7 days per week/365 days per year.

  • Visual Inspection– The condition of all sewer pipes will be examined. Visual inspections include the use of cameras, sonar or laser imaging, smoke or dye testing, cleaning findings or mechanical proofing.
  • Measure Capacity– The capacity of sewer pipes will be assessed to determine if the pipe is the correct size to accommodate the flow of wastewater. Capacity is determined using a computer simulation and physical examination of parts of the sewer system. Pipes too small for the flow that may cause sewer spills may need to be replaced.
  • Repair or Replace– Pipes found in poor condition or too small that may cause sewer spills may need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Fix or Remove Lift Stations– The pumps and infrastructure equipment that move wastewater uphill – known as lift stations, will either be repaired or eliminated.


Sewer Investing Illustration