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SAWS Stands Firm In Decision To Serve Neighborhood Near Bracken Bat Cave

A trio of opponents against a proposed community near the Bracken Bat Cave once again appealed to the San Antonio Water System to rescind its decision to provide the area with water and sewer service.

The board made that decision in March, and by law is required to provide service to developments in its coverage area.

SAWS spokesperson Greg Flores said the water provider is not backing down from its position.

"What they're asking is for SAWS to place themselves in a very unenviable position of being subjective in terms of who we provide the service to and who we don't provide service to that could lead to an issue of taking a very subjective view of who we we're going to serve," Flores said Wednesday following the board meeting.

Among those who spoke at the meeting was Annalisa Peace with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, an organization that fights for the the good of the aquifer. She and others are afraid of what the neighborhood will do to the largest colony of bats in the world who reside at the cave in the summer.

Weeks ago, the colony of female bats gave birth to more than five million pups, swelling the population of the colony to about 20 million.

Flores said the application to serve the proposed development took five years to approve.

"So it's not as easy as going and filling out a form and asking them permission to not have to serve that area," he said. "If we had to do that -- if we did do that -- then essentially it's putting us in a position of being subjective of who we want to serve and who we don't want to serve, and that is not something that we're going to do."

The City of San Antonio has yet to receive an application from the developer, Brad Galo, but there is still debate over what power the city council has in deciding the neighborhood’s future.

In June, Mayor Julián Castro said there is a science to figure out. District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal doesn’t know if he and his colleagues will get to make a decision, though he is cautious about the idea.

"I think my feelings are that putting residential development close to a cave that houses 20 million bats just seems like a really odd idea," Bernal said in June.

While the future of the development may be undecided, SAWS maintains that it will do what it is required to do.

"The law's in place that requires us to serve whoever applies for that service within our service area and that's what we have to do is follow the law," Flores said.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.