“Robbing Peter to pay Paul”…That is how the mayor of Del Rio described a proposal that would take water from Val Verde County and pump it to San Antonio.
Now, that proposal is likely off the table after San Antonio Water System staff recommended Monday that the board go in a different direction to find water.
Three private groundwater projects that would pump water to San Antonio were effectively shelved.
"We're avoiding a lot of risks that were being asked of ratepayers to take on with these pipeline projects,” said Greg Flores, spokesperson for SAWS.
Risks that included possible legal action by various groundwater districts and public entities, like the City of Del Rio.
The mayor of Del Rio, Roberto Fernandez, released this statement to KSAT regarding the decision.
“We were extremely pleased with SAWS decision to pursue the desalination for brackish groundwater. The proposed water pipeline project from San Antonio to Del Rio is ‘Robbing Peter to Pay Paul’ and is not the appropriate measure to solve the Texas groundwater issue. As I have mentioned in the past – we will use whatever legal means available to us in order to prevent mass removal of water from our community.”
In addition, the private companies behind the pipeline projects could not guarantee that water that went unused would not have to be paid for.
"A pipeline would have required a 12 percent rate increase, all up front,” said Flores. “With desalination, we can spread that cost out further in the future."
Tapping into plentiful brackish water is the next step in fulfilling future water needs, according to SAWS, with a desalination plant already under construction. The plant is located in southern Bexar County near the SAWS storage facility. Also announced Monday was a potential partnership with CPS Energy. CPS plans to build a power plant adjacent to the desalination plant.
"As CPS Energy generates power, we will generate water to help cool that power plant,” said Flores.
In turn, CPS will help power the desalination plant. The SAWS board is expected to vote on the issue.