Parra envisions SA’s water future through engineer’s eyes

by Jeanie Tavitas

For as long as he can remember, Eduardo Parra has been fascinated with water — from the mechanics of how it behaves to how we can influence that behavior. That fascination helped steer him to a career in civil engineering and hydraulics — and eventually serving on the SAWS Board of Trustees.Eduardo Parra

The oldest of four children, Parra grew up in in Maracaibo, Venezuela, a city he describes as “very much like Texas — with a lot of oil and cattle.” His parents, who worked and studied at the same time, “wanted a good education for all of us.”

“My mother would drive us (to school) and back every day,” says Parra, recalling his dad’s sage advice: “He said your only job is to study.”

Beaming with pride, he remembers watching his dad graduate as a civil engineer, knowing he’d follow in his footsteps, mostly. “My dad dealt more with transportation like roads and highways. But I was more into water,” says Parra.

That thirst flourished in college in Venezuela, followed by the opportunity to study for his master’s in hydraulics and coastal engineering in the U.S. After grad school, Parra returned to Venezuela to teach and work with his dad’s firm.

Before he passed away, Parra says his dad encouraged him to close the company and find a job elsewhere. Those wise words steered him to Houston in 2005, where he worked his way up from intern to principal engineer. Twelve years later, he and his wife started their own engineering firm.

“We’re all either related or longtime friends,” says Parra, adding that it’s a dream come true. “I love what we do, being able to influence the infrastructure of San Antonio and Central Texas.”

Engineering aside, music also played an important role in Parra’s life. Memories of playing classical guitar alongside his brother while his sisters danced make him chuckle.

“(My brother) was really gifted. I was just persistent,” Parra said, admitting that he seldom picks up the guitar now. But he does dream about performing on stage someday.

“I want to take singing lessons to eventually be good enough to sing in the choir at the opera,” says Parra, now in his 10th year on the board of Opera San Antonio.

In the meantime, the self-described “water geek” is thrilled to serve as SAWS’ Board secretary.

“It’s an honor to be able to help influence some of the decisions — or at least share why I see things one way or the other — that help secure the water future for San Antonio,” says Parra.

As for his vision for the future, Parra says continuing our stellar work in conservation, as well as securing new water resources, will help San Antonio thrive in a sustainable way.

“Making sure we’re planning to have water for 2055, as well as continue maintaining our water and sewer lines and plants, so we get the most that we can from them.”