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San Antonio wants ownership of the water it puts into the San Antonio River

By Sara Sneath
Jan. 20, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.


The San Antonio Water System wants to retain ownership of the reclaimed water it puts into the San Antonio River.

If the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approves the application filed last month, wastewater that SAWS deposits into the river could not be taken out by other agencies, said SAWS spokesman Greg Flores. He said the water system does not know if TCEQ allows other agencies to draw out the water it puts into the river currently. But the authorization would ensure San Antonio's reclaimed water flows the 250-mile route to the bay and coastal estuaries, which support important Texas wildlife. Flores said San Antonio water originates from aquifers, not the river.

SAWS produces about 150,000 acre-feet, or about 50 billion gallons, of wastewater every year, Flores said. The city reuses about 25,000 acre-feet of wastewater for industrial and outdoor application, such as golf course irrigation, the San Antonio River Walk and Toyota manufacturing, he said. In addition, SAWS has a contract to provide up to 50,000 acre-feet of wastewater to CPS Energy, the electric and gas utility company owned by San Antonio, to fill the cooling lakes for its power plants, Flores said. He said the authorization would not affect these uses for recycled water.

The "bed and banks" authorization would effectively dedicate SAWS' current, nonobligated flows to in-stream uses, such as navigation, recreation and hydropower along the 250-mile route to the bay, according to a news release.

"At a time when other river basins, such as the Colorado River Basin, are lacking flow downstream, this would ensure that water did flow downstream in our river basin," Flores said.

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