Community health and wellness
The City of San Antonio historically relied almost entirely on a single source of water, the Edwards Aquifer. Through water management planning, diversification of supply and an award-winning conservation program, San Antonio has made great strides towards developing a sustainable supply of water. SAWS has diversified its water sources to reduce reliance on the Edwards Aquifer and added new sources, including the Twin Oaks Aquifer Storage and Recovery plant that stores water underground for peak use or during droughts. The City also has the largest direct water recycling program in the nation, using recycled water to irrigate institutional, commercial and industrial campuses, as well as parks, golf courses, lawns and the River Walk.
Water quality in San Antonio is excellent. In 2012, Bexar County met the national benchmark for safe drinking water—absolutely no samples from SAWS facilities had health-based violations. This contrasts with the rest of the state, where 6% of the population obtained drinking water from sources with health-based violations. However, San Antonio still faces challenges related to regulations, extreme weather and demand for water associated with outdoor irrigation. In response, SAWS has developed an ambitious plan to expand the water supply and to save water through conservation measures.
In addition to developing new water supply sources, the City and its regional partners should work together to protect all existing water sources. A land management plan can protect the recharge zones of the Edwards Aquifer and other area waterways by discouraging land-intensive development patterns in the Edwards Aquifer. The City can further protect these vital water supply sources by working with the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) to develop and update plans, standards and regulations for development on or near watersheds, aquifers, flood zones and stream restoration areas. The City can also identify aquifer recharge areas and acquire them as open space, using voter approved sales tax proceeds.
The SAWS water quality protection program is one of the most aggressive in the state and includes sampling, monitoring and enforcement. Based on this strong foundation, a sound water quality protection plan will ensure the City can continue to provide clean water at affordable rates far into the future.