Environmental, Community Groups Question SAWS Rush To Approve Vista Ridge Pipeline

Sep 25, 2014

Margaret Day with the Sierra Club Alamo Group shares concerns about the Vista Ridge Pipeline project.
Credit Eileen Pace


Community and environmental groups came together Thursday to question what they say is a rush to approve an expensive pipeline to bring water to San Antonio from the Hill Country.

Members of the Sierra Club, COPS/Metro and concerned ratepayers called a press conference to announce their concerns about the Vista Ridge Pipeline vote that the SAWS board moved to this Monday with short notice.

The San Antonio Water System moved up its board vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline by a week, saying timing is critical.

Annalisa Peace with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance said by pushing the vote to Monday before the public can respond to the contract posted on line this week, it is ignoring what ratepayers said in previous public meetings about the pipeline.

"What we heard over and over was the citizens saying they didn't want their water rates raised so that we could have additional development on the north side. That was the overarching theme of those public hearings," Peace said. 

But SAWS spokesman Greg Flores said the project needs to get moving in order to avoid higher interest rates on the $3.4 billion dollar investment.

"This is not a rush. We have been working on this for three years. We have been negotiating this since July. We have provided ample opportunity for anyone to provide input and ample opportunity for anyone to see what the issues are that are gonig into this contract," Flores said. 

Flores said  the SAWS board wants to get the contract before city council for approval in October.

That, too, is a sticking point with the citizens groups, who say the deal is too important and long-term for the partly temporary council in office now to decide for ratepayers so far into the future.

NOTE: UTSA's College of Public Policy will host a panel discussion on Vista Ridge Monday evening.