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SAWS Opens New Water Desalination Plant

The San Antonio Water System officially opened on Friday its desalination plant that will pull water from the salty Wilcox Aquifer. It’s one of the largest inland desalination plants in the country.

Mariachis helped SAWS kick-off the opening of its H2Oaks Center. It’s here that salt and minerals will be removed from brackish water drawn from the Wilcox aquifer about 1,600 feet underground.  It will then be blended with other water sources and turned into drinking water. That’s an extra 12 million gallons per day.

SAWS CEO Robert Puente says that’s enough for 53,000 homes. “This really gives us a drought-proof supply. It allows our citizens to know their demands will be met even in the most dire circumstances,” he said.

The Wilcox Aquifer is just one of three sources of water at the site.  Fresh water from the Carrizo Aquifer will be processed as well as SAWS’s underground water reserves.

“Out of this building we are able to handle and manage all three water sources,” Puente added.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor says the city mainly relied on the Edwards Aquifer as little as 20 years ago.

“To the extent we can have multiple sources, I think that certainly gives us some comfort that should there be any challenge on any one source, we’ll have something else to rely on,” Taylor said.

Construction of the desalination plant began in 2014 and has a price tag of $197 million. When the second and third phases are built the entire project will cost around $400 million.