The San Antonio Clean Technology Forum held its sixth annual Water Forum at the Pearl Stable on Monday, October 26. The program focused on Texas’s quest for future water supplies, including discussion about new initiatives by San Antonio Water System (SAWS) such as the controversial Vista Ridge project, the launch of the new Texas A&M University San Antonio Water Institute, water quality issues, and major water projects funded by the Texas Water Development Board.
Mayor Ivy Taylor opened the session, remarking “If everyone in San Antonio thought about water and our future as much as the folks here in this room, we’d be assured that San Antonio will not only be able to meet our own needs, but will take our rightful place on a national and even global scene as a leader in water innovation.”
“There are tremendous opportunities for us,” Taylor added.
In the audio below, the discussion touches on drought, conservation, and San Antonio Water System’s upcoming plans, including rate adjustments and the Vista Ridge pipeline. The forum discussion begins at approximately eight minutes into the audio link below. Mayor Taylor's remarks precede the panel.
A few highlights:
Bech Bruun, chair of the Texas Water Development Board, praised SAWS for its “innovative” strategies to diversify water supply, saying the agency is a “sterling example for the rest of the state.”
Andrew Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water & the Environment, referenced the Vista Ridge project when he said he’s “never seen a water deal that [didn’t] make someone angry,” and said that water supply in the Lone Star State is an issue that is increasingly pitting rural Texans versus urban residents.
In defending the Vista Ridge project, SAWS CEO Robert Puente said “this community is growing at a very fast rate, and if we want to meet the needs of this community, we need a project like Vista Ridge.”
Asked if SAWS’ conservation plan will change in the future, Puente said, “It’ll change to continue to drive the per capita numbers down. SAWS has been [conserving] for a long time. If we had not conserved the way we did, we would have needed three Vista Ridge projects online in order to meet current growth.”
- Dr. Cynthia Matson - President, Texas A&M University San Antonio
- Andrew Sansom - Executive Director, The Meadows Center for Water & the Environment
- Bech Bruun - Chair, Texas Water Development Board
- Laura Huffman - Texas State Director, The Nature Conservancy
- Robert Puente - President/CEO, San Antonio Water System
- The Honorable Ron Nirenberg - Councilman, City of San Antonio
Moderator: Robert Rivard, The Rivard Report