A potential development in Comal County has drawn concerns over its close proximity to the Bracken Bat Cave and its effect on the aquifer.
Opponents of the development, called Crescent Hills, appeared at a SAWS board meeting Tuesday to voice their concerns.
"SAWS responsibility to the people is to do whatever it takes to protect the Edwards Aquifer,” said Amanda Haas, a supporter of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA).
Members of the GEAA, while speaking to the board, contended that SAWS is failing to protect the aquifer because they plan to service new developments, like Crescent Hills, within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
"We think that's counterproductive,” said Annalisa Peace, executive director of GEAA.
According to SAWS, the utility is bound by law to service the area.
"We are required by state law to serve any development in our designated areas, those areas designated by the state,” said Greg Flores, of SAWS. “It’s not just as easy as turning them away.”
Crescent Hills falls within San Antonio’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), a designated area covered by SAWS that lies within Comal County. Opponents believed this could be changed by submitting a request to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality (TCEQ).
"We understand that they can decertify these portions of the recharge zone so the board can make a decision on a case by case development,” said Peace.
The GEAA estimated that around 10 miles of sewer infrastructure would have to be laid across the recharge zone to service the Crescent Hills development. They also believed that the sewer lines would be placed in stream and creek beds.
"When you have leaks in those sewer lines, you're actually leaking raw sewage into the Edwards Aquifer,” said Peace.
Peace offered up the alternative of septic tanks, claiming leaks would be partially treated versus raw, and population could be controlled.
“(Septic units) just restrict the density of the development because of spacing requirements,” said Peace.
SAWS disagreed, believing the utility was the best candidate to deliver utilities safely and cleanly.
“We think that our sewer system is the best alternative,” said Flores. "We can't be put in an unenviable position of deciding who gets served and who doesn’t get served."
Last month, State Rep. Lyle Larson and Doug Miller sent a letter to Mayor Julian Castro and Judge Sherman Krause asking that the Crescent Hills development be postponed until further studies are completed.
KSAT did attempt to contact the developer of Crescent Hills, Galo Properties, but have yet to receive a response.