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The Source: Big Financing Changes Coming To $3 Billion Pipeline


The city of San Antonio needs water, says the San Antonio Water System. To quench the collective thirst of the seventh largest U.S. city, a $3 billion deal was penned to build 142 miles of pipe from Burleson County two years ago.  Constructing that massive pipeline was international Spanish juggernaut Abengoa, who partnered with another company called Blue Water Systems to form the Vista Ridge Consortium, a subsidiary. 

Now Abengoa is furiously trying to stave of bankruptcy and they want to sell 80 percent of their stake in the pipeline deal to someone else. This has City Council Members like Ron Nirenberg worried. Nirenberg said on The Source, that Council needs to ensure that no changes take place on who is picking up the tab for the the costly project, and he has filed a motion with the city to ensure they have proper oversight of any contract changes going forward, as Abengoa seeks to sell its position. 

"We want to make sure the risk-profile still remains, that the tax payers of San Antonio are protected," said Nirenberg.

The risk-profile that Nirenberg is talking about refers mostly to the fact that the city won't actually pay for the construction of the pipeline. The city would lease the pipeline for 30 years and own it at the lease's completion. The only thing that SAWS says it will pay for is delivered water. 

SAWS CEO Robert Puente said they have told Abengoa Vista Ridge whoever takes over their share will need to abide by the same rules and take on the same risk as Abengoa.

"They have to buy the entire contract and abide by the four corners of that contract," said Puente.

For this reason, Puente views the Council overtures as unnecessary. 


  • Ron Nirenberg, Council Member for District 8
  • Robert Puente, SAWS President and CEO
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org