Last Updated on January 30, 2024
This series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) Board of Directors and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of area creeks and rivers. In this edition, we sat down with the Chairman of the Board, Jim Campbell.
Jim Campbell Bexar County District 4, Chairman of the Board
As District 4 Director, Jim Campbell represents the eastern portion of Bexar County. Jim is a native Texan and a graduate of Roosevelt High School in San Antonio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University. He is a governmental relations and communications professional whose career has included employment in the United States Congress, Texas Legislature, and San Antonio municipal government. Jim has been a River Authority board member since 2015 and was selected to serve as Board Chairman in 2022.
How does the River Authority show commitment to the community’s safety?
First, you can argue that the River Authority’s commitment to safety is the most crucial part of our mission. It is not always the most visible, but protecting public health is our primary job. We are continuously improving our expertise in flood modeling for the benefit of the community. Much of the public does not know that the River Authority operates and maintains 41 dams, 28 of which are in Bexar County. We are a critical component of local emergency coordination on major rain events and flood occurrences.
Stone Oak Dam held back floodwaters in a 2018 flooding event.
What motivated you to serve on the River Authority board?
I have served on the Board for 7 years, but I had been interested in the agency for many years before that. I moved near the San Antonio River over 12 years ago, and my interest in the river was enhanced by the hours I spent walking, kayaking, fishing, and interacting with the river. It does not take a historian to understand that the river is the reason why this community exists and has thrived and developed a world-renowned reputation. Maintaining and even improving that legacy is very rewarding, and I’m honored to serve as the Chairman of the Board.
Views from the King William section of the San Antonio River Walk.
What San Antonio River Basin Report Card metric do you find most interesting?
The Swimming Standard has been a focus of mine since getting on the Board. This metric is a very visible and tangible example of moving the needle in a positive way on water quality and safety. There is nothing that could better signal improved health of the river than achieving a swimming standard.
All urban rivers have the same challenge regarding water quality with increased runoff and pollution. The San Antonio River, like any urban waterway, has the great challenge of maintaining consistent water quality. However, the public would be surprised to know that the river already meets the swimming standard on most days of the year. Before I leave the Board, I am intent on the River Authority sponsoring a swimming event in the San Antonio River as a symbolic and visible message that the river is, by many standards, a healthy place to recreate.
Jim interacts with participants at the 2022 Battle of the Paddle kayak race.
What is Your Favorite Way to Get Involved with the River’s Creeks and Trails?
As an avid cyclist, runner, kayaker, and fisherman, it is quite easy for me to be involved with San Antonio’s creeks and trails. I have taken the opportunity to explore much of the Howard Peak Greenway trails and have enjoyed countless hours of recreation on the river by kayak, paddleboard, and fishing. I have fished the San Antonio River from the north end of Brackenridge Park all the way downstream to the Medina River confluence. I have caught many species of fish, and I do have some favorites. It is not easy to pick just one, so I will categorize them as follows. By size, channel catfish. By number, sunfish. By sportsman quality, largemouth bass. By taste, tilapia. Yes, the fish in the river are edible!
Why buy tilapia at the grocery store, when you can grab them right from the San Antonio River? Pictured here is a Blue tilapia (Oreochromis aureus).