A project to restore San Antonio’s five Westside creeks will receive $75 million in funding through the bipartisan federal infrastructure act passed by Congress last year.

The San Antonio River Authority said Thursday it will get funding for the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Work Plan. The money will help fund the remaining design and construction of the project for the Alazán, Apache, Martinez, San Pedro, and Zarzamora creeks. This project is separate from the linear creekway trails project that is ongoing, said Katye Brought, brand and public communications manager for SARA.

Launched by SARA in 2008, the project aims to restore 11 miles of creekways that were “channelized” and lined with concrete as part of a 1954 San Antonio Channel Improvement Project. By restoring the aquatic ecosystems with plantings of native grasses, wildflowers and trees, the creeks will return to being more natural channels. At the same time, the project is intended to maintaining the present level of flood protection for creeks that historically were prone to catastrophic flooding.

“This is a tremendous win for the Westside creeks,” said Jim Campbell, chair of the River Authority board of directors.

With Bexar County’s commitment to match the federal funding, the project is now fully funded, Brought said. The $75 million makes up the full federal share of the project that SARA and Bexar County needed to move the project forward. Word came in June that President Joe Biden’s budget included the initial portion of preconstruction engineering design funding for the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project.

“Historically you receive a commitment for federal funding in piecemeal, getting small increments and having to go back and continually ask to be included in the president’s budget,” Brought said. “This project received it all at one time. It’s not a common thing to see, and a great testament to the federal government’s faith in this project.”

For more than a decade, SARA has worked closely with the county, the Army Corps of Engineers, the City of San Antonio, and the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee to advance the project.

SARA will work with the Army Corps of Engineers in the design and construction of the project along with Bexar County and the City of San Antonio, SARA stated.

This effort will also include a series of public meetings led by SARA aiming to engage the community in the design and construction of the project, SARA added. More information these meetings will be provided in the coming months.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the Science & Utilities reporter for the San Antonio Report.