SAWS Southwest quadrant board member candidate Amy Hardberger sits before members of the Governance Committee at City Hall.
Amy Hardberger, candidate for the board seat for SAWS' Southwest quadrant, meets with members of the Governance Committee at City Hall. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Three nominees to the San Antonio Water System’s board of trustees, including St. Mary’s University School of Law Associate Dean Amy Hardberger, sailed through a City Council committee hearing and will face a full council vote next week.

The council’s Governance Committee interviewed Hardberger, a prominent voice on San Antonio water policy and frequent critic of major SAWS decisions, along with banker and current SAWS trustee David McGee and civil engineer Eduardo Parra.

The committee, which includes Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), Councilman Rey Saldaña (D4), and Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7), unanimously approved all three. The nominees will now head to a full City Council vote on March 8.

If approved, Hardberger, daughter of former Mayor Phil Hardberger, would take over for current trustee Ernesto Arrellano Jr., representing the southwest quadrant of SAWS’ service area. McGee would continue representing the northeast quadrant, and Parra would take over current member Louis Rowe’s seat representing the northwest quadrant.

Nirenberg’s nomination of Hardberger drew fierce criticism from Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), who claimed Nirenberg broke with precedent to make his “own personal like-minded appointment to SAWS” without consulting with Brockhouse or other council members whose districts would fall in Hardberger’s territory.

SAWS board candidate Amy Hardberger.
SAWS board candidate Amy Hardberger Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Brockhouse, who has said he plans to run for mayor, issued three press releases attacking the nomination in the weeks ahead of the meeting Wednesday, each mentioning only Hardberger by name.

In an interview earlier this month, Brockhouse said he didn’t mention the other candidates because he didn’t want to speak for other council members whose districts lie in other parts of SAWS’ service area.

In the interview, Brockhouse called Hardberger a “water activist” whose “belief system doesn’t represent District 6,” though he said his real issue was the way Nirenberg handled the appointment.

At the meeting, Nirenberg said he and his staff had researched past SAWS appointments and believe the process was valid.

“There’s no specified process for SAWS applicants,” Nirenberg said. “Different mayors have done it differently.”

Afterward the meeting, Hardberger declined to respond to Brockhouse’s statements, saying she had not yet met with him.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.