GEAA Opposes Crescent Hills Development

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When: Wednesday, May 29th at 6:00 pm

Where: City Council Chambers, San Antonio Municipal Plaza Building, 114 W. Commerce

Citizens will join the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, Alamo Group of the Sierra Club, Bat Conservation International and others to address the Mayor and City Council at Citizens to Be Heard to protest the SAWS contract for water and sewer service to the Crescent Hills development in Comal County.

Once again, it seems that we need to remind City Council that we do not want to subsidize development on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Not on Our Water, Not with Our Money!

To serve the Crescent Hills development, SAWS Rate payers will be called on to subsidize:

  • the cost of providing water to 3,800 residential units. SAWS will have to provide a total of 1,089 acre feet of water per year at a cost of $992,079.00 per year. SAWS customers will face increased rates in the near future to cover the costs of securing additional water supplies.
  • Fifty percent of the cost of running an oversized sewer main to the development. SAWS has determined that the oversized main is needed to serve other developments anticipated to be built in this area. The sewage infrastructure will be installed in creeks that recharge the Edwards Aquifer.
  • the cost of inspections required by TCEQ for sewage infrastructure installed on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. TCEQ requires camera testing every five years for sewer lines on the Recharge Zone, at an estimated cost to SAWS customers of $37,000/mile. This cost does not apply to sewage infrastructure that is not on the Recharge Zone.

The impact of intensive development on the Galo property could endanger millions of Mexican Freetail Bats who make Bracken Bat Preserve the largest colony of mammals in the world and future residents of Crescent Hills. It would also compromise the utility of the Cibolo Canyon Preserve as protected habitat for the Golden Cheek Warbler and the value of the mitigation credits that the US Army has purchased from the Preserve.

We are asking:

  • That City Council rescind the service contract approved by the SAWS Board for water and sewage service to Crescent Hills
  • That SAWS amend their CCN permit so that they are not the sole provider of water and sewer service for a section of Comal County
  • For a large buffer zone to protect the Bracken Bat Cave, similar to the buffer zone that protects the Toyota Plant, and for enforcement of San Antonio’s 15% Impervious Cover Limit as required on this site.

We have been informed by the City of San Antonio that they may not be enforcing our Water Quality and Tree Preservation ordinances in Comal County. If true, this is all the more reason that SAWS service should not be provided to the Crescent Hills Development in Comal County. We hope that hearing from citizens on this issue will prompt the Mayor, City Council, and the SAWS Board to actions that will protect our primary source of water and curtail high density development of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

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Join GEAA at City Hall in San Antonio on May 29th

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On March 11, 2013, the Board of Trustees of the San Antonio Water System approved water and wastewater service to Crescent Hills, a development located entirely in Comal County on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

This 1,545 acre tract, bordered by the newly acquired Cibolo Canyon Preserve and the Bracken Bat Preserve, is too high density for the Recharge Zone. Planned to build out at four houses per acre, Crescent Hills does not comply with San Antonio’s impervious cover restrictions. It is estimated that San Antonio Water System (SAWS) will need to secure an additional 976 acre feet per year to provide water service to this new development.

Given that SAWS is exploring options to pipe water in from other areas to meet projected demands, it is time that we – as a community – engage in this issue. How big do we want SAWS to grow? Do we want to provide service outside of Bexar County? Do we, as rate payers, want to fund big dollar supply projects in order to fund sprawl over the Edwards Recharge Zone? We are very grateful to SAWS Trustee, Samuel E. Luna, for bring these issues up at the March 11th SAWS Board meeting, and for following up with a letter to the SAWS Board. We agree that the vote to approve service to Crescent Hills should be rescinded.

Also very troubling is the fact that SAWS plans to subsidize 50% of the cost of installing oversized sewer lines to Crescent Hills. Not only will this promote additional growth over the Edwards Recharge Zone, but these lines will be installed within the creek bed of Elm Hole Watering Creek and its tributaries.

Sewer line in Elm Hole Creek(in red) proposed to serve Crescent Hills - SAWS

Sewer line in Elm Hole Creek(in red) proposed to serve Crescent Hills – SAWS

SAWS routinely installs sewage lines right up the middle of intermittent streams that recharge the Edwards Aquifer, as they plan to do to provide service to Crescent Hills. Given that 75% to 80% of recharge occurs within streams and rivers that traverse the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, the event of a spill of could have serious consequences to nearby wells. The Edwards Aquifer staff recently reported extremely elevated levels of fecal coli form bacteria in water wells as far as four miles away from the site of a spill that occurred on the Recharge Zone on October 15, 2012.

During the period between January 2008 and May 2012 eighty-three spills totaling 809,000 gallons (or 2.5 acre feet) of raw sewage occurred on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone. Because the Edwards Aquifer does not filter surface runoff on the Recharge Zone, this is cause for concern.

Recognizing that sewage infrastructure poses a threat to the continued quality of the Edwards Aquifer, TCEQ requires camera testing of wastewater lines that traverse the Recharge Zone at five year intervals. The cost of compliance with these requirements is estimated at $37,000/mile. Currently, this cost is borne by all SAWS rate payers. Additionally, the extension of waste water service into the Edwards Recharge and Contributing zones serves to encourage additional high density development in this extremely sensitive area. Until such time as a more equitable method of financing inspections and other measures needed to protect the Recharge Zone are implemented, we oppose approval of additional wastewater infrastructure within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

GEAA invites you to engage the Mayor and City Council of San Antonio in a dialogue about development on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, and whether or not we should expand SAWS service into Comal County. Citizens of Comal County are welcome; development in this area could affect your wells and springs.

On Wednesday, May 29th at 6:pm City Council has a B Session that includes “Citizens to be Heard”. This is an opportunity for individual citizens to address City Council. The meeting takes place at the Municipal Plaza Building City Council Chambers at 114 West Commerce Street in San Antonio and starts at 6 p.m.

You are invited to join us at Citizens to Be Heard to speak or just bear witness. If you are coming, please notify the Mayor’s Office and your Council representative and ask that they stay to hear the people.

If you are interested in speaking, instructions for sign-up are:

  • Citizens must register between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting in order to speak. The link to register online becomes available on Wednesday at 8 a.m. at this website: http://www.sanantonio.gov/yourcity/meetingappear.aspx
  • Alternatively, between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., citizens can register in person at the Registration Desk on the afternoon of the meeting
  • Citizens are given 3 minutes each to speak about their issue, and groups of 3 or more are given a total of 9 minutes. You can yield your time if you like to someone who may have a longer presentation.

We encourage all SAWS ratepayers and all people who don’t want to subsidize sprawl on the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone to join us on May 22nd in urging the San Antonio City Council to rescind SAWS service to Crescent Hills.

If you cannot attend – Please contact the Mayor and your City Council Representative to voice your concerns.

Map Bracken Development-compressed

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