Aquifer Protection Areas – Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone

The possibility of contamination from spills, leakage from hazardous materials or runoff from the rapidly developing urban areas on or near the recharge zone has greatly increased (Stein and Ozuna, 1995). Therefore, safeguarding public water supplies in the San Antonio region must focus on protection of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. The Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone crosses Kinney, Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Comal and Hays counties. Bexar County contains the smallest share having only 8 percent of the Recharge Zone, with less than 3 percent located within the city limits of San Antonio. However, of the six counties, San Antonio has the strictest regulations for development over the Recharge Zone, where development of residential and commercial property on the recharge zone is increasing.

In 1994, the San Antonio City Council met as a committee to review concerns about water quality. The mandate report adopted by City Council identified 33 measures needed to strengthen regulations to further protect the Edwards Aquifer. Of these 33 mandates, six were addressed by the Mayor and assigned to the Water Quality Task Force for revision, including buffers along floodplains, buffers around significant recharge features, density limits, greenspace requirements and two issues dealing with underground storage tanks. The Water Quality Task Force consisted of various representatives of different groups, developers, Zoning and Planning Commission members, neighborhood groups and engineers. The outcome was the Water Quality Ordinance No. 81491 adopted on Jan. 12, 1995, by San Antonio City Council. The remaining 27 mandates have either been adopted by the ordinance, or approved as administrative or policy directives.

Enforcement and implementation responsibilities were assigned to SAWS to ensure compliance and increase public awareness on watershed quality and management issues.