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SAWS: San Antonio Would Not Experience Flint Crisis

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Water System Headquarters on Highway 281 North.

The lead contamination of Flint Michigan’s water has caused communities around the country to wonder- could it happen here?  The answer for San Antonio is that the San Antonio Water System believes its customers are safe. 

When the City of Flint began using water from the Flint River, it’s highly corrosive properties caused lead from pipes to leach into the water. Physicians found elevated lead levels in children.

“It’s not an issue that would happen in our back yard,” says SAWS CEO Robert Puente. He says SAWS pipes are not made of lead.  The system instead uses PVC and galvanized pipes.

“We don’t just have one water source we have very different water sources and we already know what they do and they’re not new sources and we have experience with them. So if we go with one water source whether it’s the Edwards, Trinity, or Carrizo, we know what it does to our pipes.”

But some homes may still have lead pipes. SAWS tests water samples daily. And Chief Operating Officer Steve Claus says very low levels have been detected.

“We do test for lead here and the water itself has very low levels of lead nothing that even comes close to some sort of a regulatory or drinking level criteria.”

The EPA allows lead levels in drinking water to reach 15 parts per billion before action is required.  In 2015, SAWS reported 3 parts per billion, a level low enough that the water can be considered safe to drink. 

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules