SAWS, EPA agree on fines, improvements to sewage system

Changes in response to sewage spills EPA says violates Clean Water Act

SAN ANTONIO - The Environmental Protection Agency has levied $2.6 million in fines against the San Antonio Water System.

The water utility has agreed to make almost a half-billion dollars in improvements, after the EPA deemed that SAWS violated the Clean Water Act due to the volume of sewage spills.

"Our numbers were such that they thought we could do a better job. I think we could do a better job. I think this is a responsible investment in San Antonio and the benefit goes to improve service to our rate-payers," said SAWS COO Steven Clouse.

Rate-payers will not see any additional increase to their bills due to the settlement between the two agencies. 

The fines will be paid with money SAWS already had set aside. Funding for the system improvements was already planned.

"We've already included those into our future rate projections. So in the future years, we do have rate projections included and this is part of those projections," said Clouse.

While no system is infallible, SAWS says they have an excellent record when it comes to sewage spills.

"From our peak in 2010, we reduced the volume of spills by about 30 percent and still 99.99 percent of all waste water generated successfully makes its way down to the waste water treatment plant," said Clouse.

Despite that record, Clouse declined to comment on whether or not the EPA was acting in a heavy-handed manner with the utility.

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