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SAWS Board Unanimously Approves Controversial Vista Ridge Pipeline

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UPDATE Oct. 3, 2014:

UTSA hosted an information session on the Vista Ridge project. A link to the NowCast recording of the panel discussion is here

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance posted a notification that San Antonio City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the Vista Ridge Project Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. 

The San Antonio Water System board Monday gave its approval to the controversial Vista Ridge Pipeline project that when complete, will import 16.3 billion gallons of water from Central Texas.

Citizens, environmental groups, and residents of the Texas Hill Country appeared at SAWS with final appeals to the board not to vote for the project. 

Dave Klar is a ratepayer who fears high costs down the road with the 30-year-project, and says the pipeline is a boondoggle that the city doesn’t need.

“SAWS has done a great job with their desal planning, their aquifer storage and recover, and other aspects that are diversified," Klar said. "We don’t need this pipeline."

SAWS officials say the pipeline is necessary for economic growth and will make San Antonio drought-proof.  

Attorney Michele Gangres with the League of Independent Voters of Texas, is from Lee County near the source of the pipeline. She calls it a ruinous contract for San Antonio ratepayers and says it will rob Central Texas residents of water they need over the next 30 years.

“We know we have a prolific aquifer under our counties. There’s water there to share, but as our county judge says, ‘My mama didn’t me that sharing means give it all and then you maybe sell it back to me at the end,'" Gangres said. "There are three percent of the landowners in Burleson County controlling almost 100 percent of the groundwater in that county. That will happen in my county if these permits are granted. This is like a house of cards."

SAWS expects city council to approve the Vista Ridge contract with Abengoa next month, and says the deal would mean a 16 percent increase in rates over the next five years.