SAN ANTONIO – There’s only a few small finishing touches left to bring the 142-mile Vista Ridge Pipeline, once thought to be an ambitious project, to completion.
“It’s online, it’s on time and we couldn’t be happier,” explained SAWS spokesperson Anne Hayden. “It’s going to take care of San Antonio for the next 50 years.”
The pipeline, which cuts south roughly along Interstate 35, brings groundwater from the less densely populated Burleson County to the north side of San Antonio, ending up at the SAWS Agua Vista station. Nearly 45 million gallons of water, per day, will come into the station, located in Stone Oak.
It is then treated to match Edwards Aquifer water and pumped to about 20% of San Antonio, according to SAWS. The project took the better part of a decade to complete.
It is the ninth source of water for SAWS and part of what they call a needed diversified water portfolio to service a rapidly-growing San Antonio.
“That’s why during the summer, when there’s no rain and the aquifer level is dropping in San Antonio and other areas, we have to reduce the amount of water that we pump to make sure that the Edwards levels can still support the [endangered species]. What that means in turn, is that if we are going to continue to grow as a city, have to bring in other sources of water,” said Hayden. “For a long time, we worked on conservation. We’re actually one of the international leaders on water conservation. But conservation can only take you so far.”
SAWS ratepayers are already absorbing the cost of the project.
“This is built into the rates that we have worked with city council on. It’s going to take about 30 years in total to pay it off,” said Hayden.
Once that occurs, SAWS will own the pipeline and only be paying for the water.
The Vista Ridge project faced challenges along the way, including push back from environmentalists, but the project continued and SAWS is proud of the end result.
“People are going to look back at this as being a really brilliant move because we were able to set prices for something that’s going to become only more and more precious as we go along,” said Hayden.