|Organizations support AGUA reforms
by Daniel J. Calderón
Members of Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AGUA) held a press conference in San Antonio July 27 to allow neighborhood groups to voice their opinions regarding AGUA’s proposed recommendations.
Representatives from the assembled groups unanimously voiced their support for AGUA’s major recommendation involving a 15 percent limit on impervious cover over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.
Impervious cover refers to man-made structures like streets, pavement, and roofs. According to AGUA, impervious cover is an indicator of urban development and is directly related to the amount of contaminants in storm water and streams.
“The aquifer is our major source of drinking water,” said Elaine Talarski of the Northwest Neighborhood Alliance. “We urge the [San Antonio] City Council to adopt 15 percent as a uniform standard.”
According to AGUA, the current water quality ordnance rules allow between 30 and 80 percent impervious cover for developments inside the San Antonio city limits.
“We have no filtration in the aquifer,” explained Annalisa Peace, Executive Director for the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. “We are lucky right now to have such high quality water available and we want to keep it that way. Today, we are honored to have people from across the area come and show their concern for the aquifer.”
San Antonio City Councilman Kevin Wolff said the plan is ambitious but wonders how AGUA can make the recommendations a reality.
“If they want to buy the Edward’s Aquifer Recharge Zone and limit development to 15 percent impervious cover, they’re welcome to it,” Wolff said. “I am certainly for protecting the aquifer but not at the expense of property owners’ rights. A. It’s wrong and B., it’s against Texas law.”
“I feel it’s less about trying to protect the aquifer and more about anti-development,” he began. “If you develop all of the available area, it would still amount to about 17 percent [of the total area]. If you want to talk about limiting development, let’s talk about that; but let’s not cover it up by masking it in concern for the aquifer. “Indeed, Wolff said he is concerned for the quality of drinking water in San Antonio, but said citizens need to broaden their concerns over aquifer preservation.
“Our water [in San Antonio] comes from Medina County. The aquifer flows from west to east. If you want to talk about dangerous things going into our aquifer, you have to worry about things farmers are using in their fields to the west of us.”
George Rice, a groundwater hydrologist, said the reforms include surrounding areas.
“We’re not advocating a total ban on construction over the entire aquifer,” he said. “We’re just talking about the recharge zone and the five-mile buffer.
AGUA representatives urged citizens from every area in the aquifer recharge zone to speak to their local representatives in order to preserve the purity of the underground water source.
“We hope cities like New Braunfels would consider enacting the options we have presented today,” said Peace.
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