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.
Derek Gaudlitz, Wilson County Board Member
Derek Gaudlitz of Floresville is the owner and CEO of Freedom Mowing LLC. He is a member of the Military Officers Association of America, Floresville Lions Club, Floresville Chamber of Commerce, and the Wilson County Friends of the Library. Additionally, he is Commander of the American Legion Post 38 and served in the U.S. Army for over 20 years upon his retirement in 2014. Gaudlitz received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.
How does the River Authority show commitment to the community’s safety?
The River Authority prioritizes safety in many ways, as its primary concern is keeping lives, property, and our natural environment safe and secure. Through my military and civil engineering experience, I learned that accident prevention and protection enhancement are vital to us all. This is how the River Authority operates—through stewardship, integrity and excellence. The River Authority continuously provides efforts to keep the river clean, which includes conducting water quality monitoring and assessment that involves sampling at sites throughout the San Antonio River Basin. Additionally, in its commitment to the community’s safety and recreational opportunities, the River Authority operates, maintains, and provides recreational opportunities along the SASPAMCO Paddling Trail in Bexar and Wilson counties as well as John William Helton-San Antonio River Nature Park, Graytown Park on the San Antonio River, and Jackson Nature Park which are all located in Wilson County. Through constant presence and support, the River Authority improves the quality of life and health of the river and the citizens that enjoy it.
Flooding at Helton Nature Park in Wilson County. The River Authority operates a flood warning system at the park to keep park-goers safe.
Trails at Jackson Nature Park.
What San Antonio River Basin Report Card metric do you find most interesting?
The San Antonio River Basin Report Card metric I want to highlight is the Park Usage metric which scored a grade of A+ in 2022. This grade indicates that people are getting outside and utilizing the nature-based and cultural park resources throughout the San Antonio River Basin; As a civil engineer, I love to hear this! It is crucial that we continue to promote the use of the River Authority’s parks, as they are enjoyable and provide excellent resources. Helton Nature Park offers many park amenities, including river and paddle trail access, hike and bike trails, pavilion and campground reservation opportunities, and more. The River Authority and the San Antonio River Foundation recently held an immersive nature walk at Helton Nature Park to help the community discover unique flora and fauna in the area. This is a great example of the River Authority engaging with our southern basin citizens and sharing their expertise on what can be found in each of the counties. I encourage all citizens to review the San Antonio River Basin Guide to become familiar with the collection of parks, trails, and historic destinations throughout the river basin.
Helton Nature Park
What River Authority program in Wilson County do you want to highlight for readers?
A program the River Authority holds in Wilson County that should be highlighted is the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection events. The River Authority holds this event in Wilson County twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall. This event is essential for the community because it allows constituents to decrease and dispose appropriately of the household hazardous waste sitting in their homes. HHW contains harmful materials to the environment and public health. The River Authority provides this free service in Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties to ensure they can help citizens get rid of HHW properly and keep it away from local creeks and the San Antonio River. HHW can include items like corrosive cleaners (such as drain cleaner and lye-based oven cleaner), fuels (gasoline, propane, diesel), paints (oil-based or some anti-mildew latex), pesticides, and more. The River Authority’s HHW collection event also takes electronic waste, tires, and pharmaceutical waste.
What motivated you to serve on the River Authority board?
Having a background in civil engineering, I have always been interested in infrastructure that enhances communities. Additionally, as a Wilson County resident, I wanted to be able to have a role that allowed me to serve my county and advocate for the work the River Authority is doing in the southern basin. Serving on the River Authority board has allowed me to be aware of the projects that are being worked on, as well as be a voice for Wilson County residents. I am proud to be a member of the River Authority board. I have learned so much since I was appointed and look forward to continuing service to my community in this capacity.