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SAWS Plans To Pull On Customers' Heartstrings To Make Rate Increase Palatable

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The San Antonio Water system is pulling on customers' heartstrings to gain support for its rate increases with a TV, radio, billboard and online advertising campaign over the next few months.

SAWS spokeswoman Anne Hayden says the utility realized its need to raise awareness among its constituency to support its requests for rate increases over the coming years.  She says those increases are necessary to continue to upgrade infrastructure throughout the city, as well as for the Vista Ridge project.

"This campaign is running in total about $250,000 and it's going to be running throughout the end of the year," Hayden says.

Hayden says the ads will show how water is important to health care, military presence, recreation, economic growth and the Riverwalk.

"How it figures in to the important points to your life, we showed an emotional connection, one of the photos we have is a child playing in the Yanaguana Garden, which was furnished to us by Hemisfair, so we were able to keep costs down," Hayden says. "We were also able to relate water to those moment in our lives that make San Antonio special."

Any SAWS rate increases must be approved by City Council. San Antonio Councilman Ron Nirenberg told TPR he wants SAWS to be realistic and transparent with the public about the city's challenges. He said he wants San Antonio to be "waterful" as much as anyone, but that water is a serious economic issue and he is still waiting for SAWS to produce the Water Management Plan that was due in 2015.

Nirenberg told TPR, "That means taking a hard look at where we need to improve. Council has an opportunity move the needle on that this week with consideration of a coal tar ban that would reduce contamination, and I'm hopeful that we will soon see SAWS' Water Management Plan that was expected in 2015."