Environment
11:15 am
Thu March 13, 2014

City Leaders To Mark Progress Of Aquifer Protection Program

With water on the minds of many, the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program is a citywide, long-standing effort to maintain sustainable water levels.

In April, the San Antonio city council will hear once again about the city's Aquifer Protection Program. It began around 2000, approved by voters to use 1/8th cent sales tax revenue to purchase land over the sensitive Recharge Zone in Bexar County.

In 2005 the program changed a little to include Medina and Uvalde Counties.

But instead of purchasing land, landowners in sensitive areas can sell their development rights. The purchase-program is voluntary, but it ensures that water can continue to get into the recharge zone unhampered.

Grant Ellis is the program's special projects manager. There's no shortage of landowners who are interested in the program," he said.

Ellis will tell the council that $32 million out of the $90 million in 2010 has been used so far, with a little over 23,000 acres in conservation easements obtained. From the city's perspective, he said, the program has been successful.

"When the program was renewed by city voters in 2010, it passed with over 60 percent of the vote, and I think that goes to show just how important aquifer protection has been to the city of San Antonio and its voters in the past," he said.

The Edwards Aquifer Authority is a partner in the program, providing technical assistance for geological assessment of property's that may be considered for conservation easements.

General Manager Roland Ruiz said the EAA board received an update this week to how the program is moving forward.

"Water is always going to be a major issue and a top concern, not only for San Antonio, but any community across the region; not only having enough water, but having a high quality of water go hand in hand," he said. "So this program, in many respects, goes a long way toward ensuring that for the future."

In addition to the program, Councilman Ron Nirenberg is working on an updated water plan. Earlier this year, he asked for a compilation of city policy, procedures and regulations so that water planning for the future can move forward.