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.
Jerry Gonzales was born and raised on the Southside of San Antonio. He raised his family in the same community in which he is highly involved in preserving and renewing. This passion fueled him to join the River Authority board in 2013, where he has served on the Communications and Executive Committees. Jerry is an enthusiastic supporter of the Westside Creeks Restoration Project.
What Motivated You to Serve on the River Authority Board?
Trash. I would walk around the creeks and parks on the Southside and be disappointed in the amount of waste littering in public spaces like Concepción. I knew that we, as a community, could do better. I wanted to do more. That’s when I ran for the River Authority Board of Directors. Since then, there has been a significant movement to clean up the mess that we made and preserve the rivers and paths. In 2021, we launched the “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” initiative to engage and educate the community on the responsibility that we must protect the environment that we live in. I have appreciated the opportunity to serve and inform the Southside community through my position on the Board.
Jerry joins the River Authority’s River Warrior volunteers at a litter cleanup on the Southside.
What River Authority Basin Report Card Metric Do You Find Most Interesting?
Every year, I look to the Swimming Standard metric. The research done and the work put into the study of this standard are essential, and I also appreciate the educational piece of the Report Card. I believe there should be more conversations about the Swimming Standard. The River Authority measures bacterial levels in the river to determine suitable recreation use. Naturally, these bacterial levels are imbalanced following a rain event, and swimming is not advised. However, there are several different ways to continue recreating along the creeks and rivers following rain events. Our Watershed and Park Operations team works quickly to clear paths and regain accessibility. Although the 2022 swimming standard score was low, Park Usage continues to be one of the highest-scoring metrics.
Swimming and wading in the San Antonio River within the City of San Antonio is currently prohibited due in part to poor water quality following rain events.
How Does the River Authority Show Commitment to the Community’s Safety?
It is in our values. SAFE, CLEAN, and ENJOYABLE creeks and rivers are the main pillars of the organization. The River Authority emphasizes safety in every aspect of our mission. We take pride in the 41 flood retention dams that we operate and maintain. The River Authority’s Bexar County Maintenance Unit manages 28 dams in the Salado, Calaveras, and Martinez Creek Watersheds. There are an additional 13 flood retention dams and over 2 miles of Nichols Creek managed by our Karnes County Maintenance Unit. These teams diligently maintain vegetative cover on the dams to reinforce the structure and prevent soil erosion. Conservation and preservation play a significant role in safety, and many people may be surprised to learn that.
Jerry and fellow board member Lourdes Galvan (middle) chat with Linear Creekway Parks Advisory board member Don Rios at the Westside Creeks Community Involvement Meeting in July.
What Are Your Favorite Features or Spots Along Bexar County Projects?
The Mission Reach is my favorite stretch along the San Antonio River. I like to take my family and walk, sometimes enjoying the entire stretch. The Mission Reach is unique for its direct links from the river to the San Antonio Missions. The five Spanish frontier missions are U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites, and more people should take time to visit them all. The Mission Reach goes all the way from Roosevelt Park to Mission Concepción down to Mission Del Lago. It almost feels like getting lost in nature and history—right in the middle of Bexar County.
Jerry shows off some new fishing gear at the 2023 Fiesta Flotilla along the Mission Reach.