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The Source: Where Should Burden For New Water Supply Be?

Flickr User: Brandon Watts

More than 3 million people move to Texas every year and the need for new building to accommodate housing and jobs for some of those people requires more water and more infrastructure for water. 

How we pay for some of that expansion has come under fire as the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) has recommended doubling the amount of so-called impact fees on developers from $1,297 to $2,796. Impact fees are a one-time fee that pays for water and sewer infrastructure.

Proponents, including SAWS staff, argue current rate-payers are picking up the tab for developers and this is merely shifting the burden. Opponents, including developers and SAWS' own Capital Improvement and Advisory Committee (CIAC), argue they are paying enough, that San Antonio has the highest impact fees among big cities, and this change could disrupt San Antonio's development and economy.

The city had a public hearing today on the rate increase hearing from both opponents and proponents. The mayor has reportedly endorsed a plan to phase in whatever plan is implemented. The conversation continues and the council will not vote until May 29. 


  • Amy Hardberger, law professor at St. Mary's University and expert in water rights law. Only person to vote for the increase on the CIAC. 
  • Jim Leonard, government affairs liaison for the Greater San Antonio Builders Association.

*This is the second segment in the May 8 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM. Audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive