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Crews break ground on South Bexar desalination plant

New Desalination Plant in south Bexar County will ultimately be largest inland plant in country

San Antonio city leaders are set to tour a desalination plant in El Paso Friday ahead of plans to bring one to San Antonio.
San Antonio city leaders are set to tour a desalination plant in El Paso Friday ahead of plans to bring one to San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO – Construction started on Wednesday on what will ultimately become the largest desalination plant in the country, according to San Antonio Water System.

Located in South Bexar County, the plant will tap into plentiful brackish water deep in the Wilcox Aquifer and covert that into usable water for San Antonio.  

"Right underneath our feet here is a sea of water we can tap into," said Berto Guerra, describing the area around the plant.

Salty, brackish water will be filtered, producing an estimated 12 million gallons per day. That would create water for an additional 40,000 families, according to SAWS. An important factor as San Antonio grows at a rapid rate. It is also the reason SAWS believed it was vital to secure future resources of water before prices rise.

"We need to be aggressive enough, progressive enough, visionary enough to go find that water today," said Guerra.

This too comes on the heels of Tuesday's announcement of a near 150-mile pipeline set to bring additional water resources to San Antonio from Burleson County.

According to SAWS, the first phase of the desalination project is already included in ratepayer's bills. Around a 15-percent jump in rates, over time, can be expected to pay for the pipeline. Still, SAWS they were focused on keeping rates as low as possible.

"We expect that we're going to offer, continue to offer, the lowest bill in the state of Texas of any major city," said Greg Flores, spokesman for SAWS.

The first phase of the plant is expected to be completed in 2016, with additional phases scheduled for 2021 and 2026.


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