San Antonio Water System received a $5 million-boost from the Texas Military Preparedness Commission (TMPC) towards achieving water security for U.S. Military bases in San Antonio, a development that City officials hope will stave off local base closures.
The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) will manage the grant-funded projects, as the official grant applicant and recipient, in partnership with SAWS and the City. The Military Transformation Task Force, a City, Bexar County, and San Antonio Chamber of Commerce initiative, also helped craft the grant.
“This is truly a community and statewide effort, including the governor and the TMPC, and I could not think of a more exciting mission than to help secure our bases’ military missions,” stated Diane Rath, executive director of AACOG.
These bases currently maintain and operate their own water systems, relying on the aquifers below them for their water supply. Camp Bullis, for instance, relies on its own wells drilled into the Trinity Aquifer, known for its increased susceptibility to drought.
“The funding for an alternative water source addresses Joint Base San Antonio’s top priority, and we are hopeful that having access to alternative water makes JBSA significantly more competitive,” Mayor Ivy Taylor stated in a news release last week.
SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente said in September that about 20,000 feet – nearly four miles – of connecting waterlines will be needed to provide a backup water supply for facilities at Camp Bullis, Ft. Sam Houston, and Lackland Air Force Base as well as making improvements to Security Hill. The projects are expected to total $11 million over the next several years. SAWS estimates that almost 4,600 acre feet per year will be used by the bases once the infrastructure is implemented, but for security reasons, it cannot release actual use data.
“The projects will be done over the next two years and will remove any doubt that water should be a factor in decisions about the future of our military missions,” stated SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente.
The bases are collectively known as Joint Base San Antonio, which includes Randolph Air Force Base. A separate agreement will be made for Randolph AFB as its closer to the City of Shertz.
“This grant affirms the value of strengthening our longstanding partnership with the military,” stated Councilman Joe Krier (D9). “When we learned that water scarcity threatened the viability of military bases in our city, we took action, rapidly developing a plan to insure that the taps won’t run dry. We are living up to the moniker Military City USA.”
*Top image: Soldiers walk one by one into the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Scott Ball.