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Old Posted Nov 7, 2007, 6:22 AM
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SA: 29-Mile SAWS Pipeline Planned for Southside

SAWS planning sewer line to promote South Side growth

Web Posted: 11/06/2007 10:34 PM CST
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/met...s.32fd8fc.html

Jerry Needham
Express-News

After years of city leaders trying to push developers away from the North Side's sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, San Antonio Water System trustees decided Tuesday to put up money for a sewer project that will promote residential development on the South Side.

Trustees also approved a $400.3 million budget for 2008 that includes no rate increases on residential or business water bills despite a projected 9.8 percent rise in operating and maintenance expenses.

A separate capital improvements budget proposes $233.9 million for replacing, improving or adding infrastructure to the system.

To make way for the major 29-mile-long sewer collection line from the far West Side to the Dos Rios Water Recycling Center on the South Side, trustees amended the utility's wastewater master plan. The so-called outfall would generally follow the Medina River basin and pass through now sparsely populated country beyond Loop 410.

The gravity-fed, large-diameter pipe would lie beyond recent or planned development that includes the Toyota truck manufacturing plant, a Union Pacific Railroad freight facility and the Texas A&M University at San Antonio campus.

"I think this is a chance to shape development and promote development in desirable parts of town," said Trustee Michael Lackey, a registered engineer.

Eight developers who want to build 13,000 homes have agreed to immediately fund the $10 million design cost of the line, with payment coming from fees they will owe to SAWS. The utility expects to buy easements and begin construction late next year and complete the project in 2011. The $90 million estimated cost eventually would be paid by fees from developers.

Other developers wanting to build 8,000 homes also have indicated interest in connecting to the line, SAWS officials said.

Water service generally is not a problem in the area, which is crossed by mains from SAWS or Bexar Metropolitan Water District. Sewer service has been the problem.

Usually, SAWS extends major lines in segments with accumulated developer funds as development proceeds outward from a sewage treatment plant. In this case, the developers wanting service lie far from Dos Rios, the logical plant to provide service, said Kelley Neumann, SAWS vice president of facilities engineering and construction.

Neumann said SAWS has about $21 million in development fees paid toward infrastructure improvements that can be used for the project but the utility runs the risk that it could be some time before growth pays for the outfall. But she added that planners project that the area will have a population of 195,000 in 10 years and 303,000 in 20 years.

"This is something that we can't afford not to do," Board Chairman Alex Briseño said. "The community has made a decision to invest in an under served part of our community. And with city policies regarding development over the recharge zone, development has been deflected southward. You can't have that development without water and sewer service."
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