San Antonio’s First Source
The Edwards Aquifer is a massive underground reservoir and the source for over half of San Antonio’s drinking water. The Edwards Aquifer is made up of intensely faulted and fractured carbonate limestone. The dynamics and size of this geologic anomaly make it one of the most productive aquifers in the nation through its storage capacity, flow characteristics, water producing capabilities, and efficient recharging ability.
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Edwards Aquifer Management
In 2020, approximately 56.5 percent (approximately 172,000 acre-feet) of water used by SAWS customers came from the Edwards Aquifer. The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) issued water rights through an established permitting process, and today, SAWS has permits to approximately 271,000 acre-feet per year of those rights.
Access to these permitted groundwater withdrawal rights is subject to varying levels of availability depending on critical period reductions due to variable weather conditions. These cutbacks in any given year may range from zero percent to 44 percent. In addition to the regulatory cutbacks, SAWS has agreed to reduce pumping by up to 46,300 acre-feet during any single year during a worst-case drought scenario for the benefit of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP). Therefore, SAWS assumes a firm yield* of approximately 105,000 acre-feet per year during worst-case drought conditions. For that reason, SAWS added several non-Edwards Aquifer water sources to ensure our city’s water future.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery
The H2Oaks Center uses Aquifer Storage & Recovery to store excess Edwards Aquifer drinking water during rainy times in a large-scale, underground reservoir.
Firm yield – The volume of water which can be produced from a defined source during a repeat of the drought of record under existing regulatory, legal, contractual, hydrological or infrastructure constraints
1 acre-foot per year = 325,851 gallons