The Rodriguez family’s fight against the San Antonio Water System has come to a close.

Following months of negotiations between the family and the utility, SAWS’ board of trustees approved the authorization of a settlement agreement Tuesday to pay the Rodriguez family $295,000 for use of part of their restaurant’s property to build and maintain a sewer lift station.

The family is “content” with the settlement, and is ready to put the issue behind them, Johnny Rodriguez Jr. told the San Antonio Report Tuesday.

“We would like to thank the support of all our customers,” Rodriguez said. “We are proud to be deep-rooted in San Antonio’s Westside.”

SAWS officials have said a lift station is needed in the area to fulfill a federal order to upgrade its undersized and leaky sewage system. That includes abandoning a deteriorating sewage main underneath Interstate 35 and directing that sewage instead through a pipe along the frontage road next to Piedras Negras De Noche, the 58-year-old restaurant owned by the Rodriguez family.

Since last fall, they have vocally opposed the construction of a lift station, so-named because it lifts wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation, on a corner of the property, fearing the business might not withstand the six-month construction period or any associated smells or spills outside their eatery.

According to the authorized agreement, the sewer lines are to be installed through directional drilling, which will minimize above-ground construction, said SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente. Additional “Owner-requested measures to protect Owners’ property during construction” will also be in place, the agreement states, including completing construction 250 within days.

The settlement concludes a two-year struggle between the parties.

At first the owners of Piedras Negras de Noche pushed back against SAWS' plans to build a sewage station on its property, but now they appear to want one even bigger than planned in hopes of selling the property to developers.
Piedras Negras de Noche is located on the Westside along Interstate 35; it backs up to San Pedro Creek. Credit: Nick Wagner / San Antonio Report

In November of last year, the SAWS board unanimously approved a resolution supporting the city’s use of eminent domain to force the sale of 285 square feet in front of Piedras Negras de Noche to build the lift station. The city then authorized eminent domain in December. But after ongoing negotiations with the family failed, SAWS filed a lawsuit to force settlement negotiations.

On April 14, the parties reached a settlement agreement; board approval to authorize paying the family came Tuesday.

Puente said he and SAWS staff were glad they were able to come to an agreement that allows SAWS to supply San Antonio with the infrastructure it needs while also allowing the restaurant to serve its customers.

Lindsey Carnett

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