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City Council approves Vista Ridge Pipeline Project

Vote unanimous; project will provide new water source by 2020

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio City Council members on Thursday unanimously approved a controversial water pipeline project that will provide the city with a new source of water.

The Vista Ridge pipeline will consist of 142 miles of pipe running between Burleson County and Bexar County and will pull 50,000 acre-feet of water from the Carrizo-Wilcox and Simsboro Aquifer by 2020.

District 9 Councilman Joe Krier said the project will benefit business, economic development and job growth in the city.

"This new long-term supply of water is for the children and grandchildren of those who live here today," Krier said in a prepared statment. "The Vista Ridge Pipeline is a game-changing, historic deal that will improve the quality of life for all our citizens for decades to come."

District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg said the project "is the right one for San Antonio."

San Antonio Water System officials estimate it would increase the city's water supply by 20 percent, providing water to approximately 160,000 families over the next decade.

The project would cost an estimated $3.4 billion, with SAWS officials saying that customers will see their rates go up as a result.

"This is an expensive project, (with) as much as a 16 percent rate increase ... needed by 2020," SAWS president and CEO Robert Puente said. "We are attempting to mitigate that impact by accepting recommendations from the council-appointed Rates Advisory Committee. Further mitigation can occur by selling excess water to regional wholesale customers."

More than 50 people signed up to give council members their opinion about the project, including George Rice, who opposed it.

"If we don't want people to come to San Antonio to mine our aquifer, why are we willing to go to other communities and mine their aquifer?" said George Rice, an opponent of the project.