Protesters Of Proposed Vista Ridge Pipeline Rally City Hall
More than 100 protesters stormed the offices of the San Antonio mayor and City Council Tuesday. They’re calling on elected officials to kill the proposed 142-mile Vista Ridge water pipeline.
The rally brought together rural landowners living over the Carrizo Aquifer in Burleson County and urban opponents who say it’s not worth the cost.
On the steps of City Hall, San Antonio residents chanted, “My water, my right, my right to fight, while landowners from the Burleson County area, held various signs that said Vista Ridge equals unsustainable water.
Their opposition to the Vista Ridge pipeline stems in part from the San Antonio Water System’s rate increase that would be needed to pay for it but also a fear the project could drain the aquifer.
Rose Fritsche of Lee County claims the underground water is already scarce: “We’ve already had to put more pipes down deeper because we’ve lost underground water.”
Crowding into the lobby of Mayor Ivy Taylor’s office, the protesters tried to turn-in what they say is more than 6,800 signatures from people who live over the aquifer that would be tapped. They requested to speak with council members or Mayor Taylor, but no elected officials were present.
Kenneth “Gabbo” Goetsch, a Burleson County land-owner says he’s disappointed the concerns weren’t heard. “If the council is voted on by the citizens of San Antone, they should have been out here just listening to what was said in a forum.”
The Vista Ridge Pipeline would be funded through a proposed 50 percent increase to SAWS’ water and sewer rates over the next five years. The council is expected to approve those rates a week from Thursday.
Councilman Joe Krier supports the Vista Ridge project saying, “I am convinced that there is more than enough water in the Burleson County aquifer to not only meet the demands of the pipeline from there to here but to leave the needs of Burleson County unaffected.”
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzalez believes the project is worth the cost. “Our city is expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years. We know that we’re going to need that additional water source so I was supportive of it in the beginning but only if SAWS would agree to adjust the rate structure so the most vulnerable citizens wouldn’t be affected, and I do believe that they have done that with what they presented offering the “lifeline rate.’”
This Thursday, City Council may learn more about Vista Ridge when they hear details of a controversial water study that talks about the risks of building the pipeline.