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Water utilities, elected officials learn from SAWS

Water conservation, storage touted at tour

The San Antonio Water System showed off its underground water storage capabilities, wastewater recycling plant and plans for a water desalination plant to representatives of water utilities and elected officials from around the state.

The bus tour originated in Austin and was led by state Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio.

Larson's goal was to spread the word about the successes experienced by SAWS in hopes of spreading them to other communities.

Larson said a key part of conserving water is storing it underground, not in reservoirs where it can evaporate.

"What we're trying to do is change how people think about storing water," Larson said. "We've got about 5 billion acre-feet of storage capacity in this state. We're using about 120,000 acre-feet of that."

Greg Flores, SAWS vice president public affairs, also noted that a field where Brahma cows now graze will in a few years be the site of an operating water-desalination plant.

Flores said showing how this works could help SAWS down the line.

"We're hoping to get some change in Austin to help make some of these easier to implement in the future," Flores said.

The group also toured SAWS' Dos Rios wastewater recycling plant. There, wastewater comes in and is treated.

Some of that water is discharged into the Medina River and some is reused.

Those on the tour came from as far away as Corpus Christi, Pearland and Dallas, and many came away impressed.

"There's a lot to learn, a lot to study on it, but I think there's some options for us in the future," said Jody Puckett of Dallas Water Utility.

With the population growth in the state, water needs in Texas are projected to increase 22 percent by 2060.