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Environment

City Council Says It’s A Go, People To Vote On Tax For Aquifer

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Ryan Loyd
/
TPR News
Councilmans Ron Nirenberg (left) and Ray Lopez spear-headed bringing the renewal to council.

In May, San Antonians will have the opportunity to vote on whether to continue an aquifer protection program that collects one-eighth of a cent sales tax. After meeting on Wednesday for an initial discussion on the matter, on Thursday, the San Antonio City Council unanimously approved what will be propositions 1 & 2 in the upcoming municipal election.

The combined maximum of $180 million collected from the 5-year-long sales tax will be used to purchase land in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. That land will be protected from development. It will also be used to buy additional hike and bike trail space for the city’s greenway system. Since voters first approved the tax in 2000, 133,000 acres have been purchased, which amounts to about a fifth of what the city intends to buy.

Annalisa Peace, the Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, an environmental non-profit that supports the propositions, gave it qualified approval: “This program has protected about 6 percent of the entire recharge zone, they said 20 percent within the area they’ve marked out with the project. So we we’ve got a ways to go in protecting the aquifer.”

There is a potential end to the program. Deputy City Manager Pete Zenoni said that for the San Antonio Water System to reach its projections for the city’s water needs, the same initiative would need to be passed multiple times. “Our analysis on this venue shows that we would have to collect another $270 million, or three more programs, to safeguard another aquifer land to satisfy water demand through 2060.”

Voters will have the chance to weigh in with their take on the subject on May 9.