Edwards Aquifer Authority Board Trustee Rebekah Bustamante (D3) has resigned.
Edwards Aquifer Authority Board Trustee Rebekah J. Bustamante (D3) has resigned. Credit: Courtesy / Edwards Aquifer Authority

The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) will review new applicants to represent parts of west and north-central San Antonio after accepting a board members’ resignation Tuesday.

Rebekah J. Bustamante told the EAA’s General Manager Roland Ruiz in a December letter that she intended to resign from her position representing District 3 of Bexar County on the EAA’s 17-member board. The district stretches roughly from U.S. Highway 90 and Interstate 35 west of downtown northward to some neighborhoods just outside of Loop 410.

In a follow-up letter, she named Jan. 1 as her effective resignation date. The board officially accepted her resignation at its January meeting on Tuesday.

In an interview, Bustamante said EAA rules required her to resign after selling her house within District 3’s boundaries and moving downtown. She said she enjoyed her role on the board and found it interesting.

“Whoever gets to be on it next and work with it is a very lucky person,” she said.

Her resignation leaves one of 15 voting positions open on the authority created by the Texas Legislature in 1993 to manage the Edwards Aquifer. The vast limestone rock layer holds the largest source of drinking water in the San Antonio region.

The EAA enforces a pumping limit on the aquifer set by the Legislature, along with cutbacks during dry times. Its staff also identifies and works to plug abandoned wells, monitors water quality, and studies water flow into and out of the aquifer, among other duties.

The vacancy means the board will vote from a pool of applicants to fill the remainder of Bustamante’s four-year term, which expires December 2018. Seats in Districts 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 15 will be up for grabs in November.

The EAA began receiving applications Dec. 18 and has officially accepted two of them so far, said board chair Luana Buckner, who represents parts of Medina and Atascosa counties.

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. on Jan. 16, with a vote on Bustamante’s replacement scheduled at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting.

Also at its Tuesday meeting, the board approved a 17.2 percent salary increase for Ruiz, the authority’s top staffer.

The increase put Ruiz’s base salary at $318,000, and he receives a $15,000 vehicle allowance. In 2017, he made $271,425 in base pay, got a $12,000 vehicle allowance, and received a $10,000 bonus, said Felix Marquez, the authority’s executive director of administration and financial services.

Buckner said the board approved Ruiz’s pay increase after surveying top executive pay at nine comparable water authorities, including the San Antonio River Authority, adding that Ruiz’s former salary was below the median of those it surveyed.

“The board supports Roland 100 percent, and believes this increase is well-deserved,” she said.

Ruiz, an attorney, has run the authority’s day-to-day business since 2012. Before that, he served as interim manager and directed the EAA’s communications. He last received a raise in January 2017.

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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.