Major water distribution contract approved in city of San Antonio
Today in a unanimous vote, the San Antonio City Council approved a contract between the San Antonio Water System and Vista Ridge Consortium to bring 16.3 billion gallons of new non-Edwards Aquifer water to San Antonio annually for 30 years.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, Oct. 30, 2014 -- Today in a unanimous vote, the San Antonio City Council approved a contract between the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and Vista Ridge Consortium (VRC) to bring 16.3 billion gallons of new non-Edwards Aquifer water to San Antonio annually for 30 years, as well as own the pipeline used to transport the water.
The contract will require the transport of water from Burleson County through a 142-mile distribution pipeline. Council approval of the contract is the last step in a process that has been under consideration for over three years. VRC now has up to 30 months to arrange financing followed by 42 months to construct the project. SAWS payments to Vista Ridge will not begin until the project is delivering water.
VRC is a partnership between Abengoa and BlueWater Systems, which has assembled 3,400 leases for water rights with local landowners in Burleson and Milam counties. Under the terms of the contract, San Antonio will not pay for any water that is not made available for delivery, ultimately shifting major regulatory risks to the private developer instead of San Antonio ratepayers.
During the deepest stage of drought, San Antonio's access to the Edwards Aquifer is reduced by 44 percent. Water from the Vista Ridge project is a drought-proof supply that will be delivered even in the deepest drought.
SAWS set new benchmarks for transparency with a series of posted negotiation meetings that were open to the public and attended by the news media, elected officials, environmental groups, and general public. Contract terms have been a matter of public record since late July. SAWS provided public information on 188 different occasions, including community presentations, meetings and tours.
Since 1992, SAWS has been a leader in innovative water management strategies, making San Antonio one of the most resourceful cities for water. Further, water and wastewater services are provided to more than one million consumers in the San Antonio region.