Cemetery visitors complain after water shut off

Cemetery owner blames Mission Reach project

SAN ANTONIO - Every week, Richard Rodriguez fills up several five-gallon jugs at the front of the cemetery, then hauls them to the back where his mother was buried in 1982 to water her gravesite.

Prior to this year, Rodriguez was able to access water through any one of the dozens of faucets throughout the cemetery, but those have been shut off.

"They can kick it on just once a week and have it open for the people here to irrigate but they don't do that," Rodriguez said.

The only water accessible to cemetery visitors are the few faucets near the front drive.

The other faucets are only turned on at night for one week out of every month, so the cemetery workers can irrigate the entire property.

"We have limited water because of the River South project that's being developed," said Mission Park South Cemetery Owner Dick Tips.

Tips said the reason the majority of faucets are shut off throughout the cemetery is because the old San Antonio River water supply has been limited by the River Reach project next door.

"We've maintained flow to that river remnant so that the cemetery, where their pumps are located, had access before the project (and) during the project. And now, as the project is moving through that area, they still have access to water -- the same what they had before they have now," said San Antonio River Authority External Communications Manager Steven Schauer.

Tips also said silt in the old San Antonio River has been an issue since construction began, but Schauer disagrees, explaining it has been a long-time problem.

"Was there a silt issue in that area? Yes, but that wasn't a result of the project. It was a result of years of river water flowing through that area," Schauer said.

Whatever the reason for the limited access, Rodriguez and other visitors are hoping it won't last much longer.

"I just hope that next year they'll be turning on the water," Rodriguez said.

The stretch of the River Reach project that runs parallel to the cemetery is expected to be open to the public in April 2013.



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