SAWS prepares to deliver water from desalination plant

Newest source of water available as early as October

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Water System is preparing to deliver 12 million gallons of water from its new $411 million desalination plant.

San Antonians currently get their drinking water from the Edwards, Carrizo and Trinity aquifers, but SAWS has plans to tap a new source 1,500 feet below ground: the Wilcox Aquifer.

"The water in that area is brackish water. It's very salty water," said SAWS planner Richard Donat.

Video: KSAT gets sneak peek of SAWS desalination plant

The desalination plant removes salt from the water and filters it to make it drinkable. SAWS customers can expect to receive water from the plant as soon as October.

"Once we bring the raw water into the plant ... it's going to go through cartridge filters, which are going to filter out any sand or grit," Donat said.

After the initial filtration, the water will flow through a series of vessels, which have seven membranes each.

"So that water is going to flow through the membranes at a high pressure, and it's going to force the clean water through the center," Donat said. "It's going to keep the saltwater, or the reject, or reconcentrate water, as a separate solution."

After the first two stages, or "passes" of filtration, 80 percent of the water is drinkable. The remaining 20 percent goes through a third filtration stage to recover another 10 percent.

"90 percent of the water is going to be clean, and 10 percent of the water is going to be reject water that we are going to dispose of through an injection well, through deep well injection," Donat said.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of since the website's launch in October 2000.