2022 Earth Day Message from the General Manager

The River Authority
Apr 22, 2022
General
Derek Boese

Derek Boese, JD, PMP General Manager

Happy Earth Day to all our readers and supporters of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) blog.

The River Authority was created in 1937, reorganized in 1961, and today we work to harmonize the needs of people and nature through stewardship of rivers and land. That was 33 years before 1970, when millions of Americans in cities across the nation demonstrated in support of clean air, land, and water, resulting in the first official Earth Day.

Today, as a resident of the San Antonio River Basin, we want to celebrate you for your commitment to standing with us in caring for our creeks and rivers as a valued natural and community resource. While we have made remarkable progress as an agency towards safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable creeks and rivers, we know our work is not yet finished. In that spirit, we want to recognize the efforts of River Authority staff, who have been extremely busy the last few months working on major projects already underway and kicking off new programs and projects.

Current Projects

 San Pedro Creek Culture Park (SPCCP)

Many of you know that the River Authority has been the project manager for Bexar County on this important project since 2013. We believe that this park will transform the west side of downtown San Antonio. Segment 1.1 (from the tunnel inlet at I-35 to Houston Street) is open and operating. The project team is pushing hard to complete Segments 1.2 and 1.3 by October 2022, opening an additional 4 blocks of linear trail, including the historic African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) site at the corner of Houston Street & Camaron Street. The design team has had extensive interactions with stakeholders and the community. Once completed, Archeological Site 41bx2359 will provide additional historical context and representation to this area. The River Authority Watershed and Parks and Operations team will be responsible for maintaining each segment of the SPCCP as they open, and the entire project is expected to be completed in mid to late 2023.

San Pedro Creek Culture Park Project phase diagram

Expansion of the Wastewater Utility System

The River Authority provides sewer service in the far east and northeast Bexar County, which has seen tremendous population growth in the last few years. This growth has caused our current wastewater utility plants to run close to maximum capacity. As a result, the River Authority initiated a significant expansion program in 2021. We are expanding our Salitrillo and Martinez IV treatment plants while also implementing numerous additions and upgrades to the current collection systems.

Utilities and construction crew work to expand the existing Salitrillo and Martinez IV wastewater treatment plants.

Our utilities staff members have been doing an outstanding job assuring that the treated effluent our plants produce meets the highest standards while also working on expanding the system to meet the growing demands. Fun fact – our Utilities Department Manager Leamon Anderson took first place this week in the Water Meter Challenge at the Texas Water Conference, where he was the fastest person to assemble a water meter. Congratulations to Leamon who moves on to the National competition this summer!

Utilities Manager Leamon Anderson holds "Meter Challenge Award Champion" trophy

Leamon Anderson, Utilities Manager

New Projects

Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration

Following the tremendous success of the Mission Reach, restoring the four Westside Creeks (Alazan, Apache, Martinez, and San Pedro creeks) has been a high priority for the community and the River Authority Board of Directors. The River Authority worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to complete a feasibility study in 2014 and had little success getting additional federal authorization and funding. In January of this year, we were notified that the project would receive full federal funding of $75M on this $115M project. The additional funds were provided through Bexar County’s Capital Outlay Program. This is a massive win for the River Authority, Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, and the entire community. I would like to give special thanks to the Westside Creeks Stakeholder Committee. They were instrumental in keeping the project going since 2014. This project has already drawn the interest of the highest levels of USACE administration, with Asst Sec of the Army (Civil Works) Michael Connor visiting San Antonio and touring the project in mid-March. We are busy negotiating the legal agreements with the Corps and look forward to starting project design in the next few months. You can find out more information at https://www.westsidecreeks.com/ .

SA to DC from left to right: Board Members Jerry Gonzales, Jim Campbell, Lourdes Galvan, US Congressman Henry Cuellar and General Manager Derek Boese

Derek Boese, River Authority staff, and Board of Directors members traveled to D.C. in March to meet with members of Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to continue conversations around the commitment to safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers.

Bexar County Creeks and Trails

Bexar County recently authorized their 10-year, $690M capital outlay program, and the River Authority was selected to serve as the program manager for the Creeks and Trails portion of the program. The Bexar County Creeks and Trails program consists of 25 projects with a total cost of $211M. As the project manager, the River Authority will oversee the design and construction of a variety of projects over those 10 years, including building the Zarzamora Creek trail, replacing the San Antonio Zoo Well, and building a trail that connects Brackenridge Park to the Blue Hole (a route known as the Spirit Reach). We appreciate the trust and confidence that Bexar County has placed in us to deliver their program and look forward to kicking off these projects throughout the region.

Earth Day Initiatives

Lastly, the River Authority’s communications professionals have worked diligently on several community initiatives that promote sustainability and trash pick-up in support of Earth Day. Together with the San Antonio River Foundation, we launched this month’s sustainable action initiative: Coffee for Conservation. We have partnered with eight local coffee shops at twelve locations to help raise awareness during Earth Month. On an individual level, we encourage public members to support local small businesses with sustainable actions. This sustainability effort goes hand-in-hand with our current public awareness initiative, Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River.

Additionally, the ongoing Earth Week Corporate Challenge invites corporations, local businesses, nonprofits, and universities to participate in a clean-up challenge during this Earth Week 2022 (April 16-24). The winning team that collects and documents the most litter using the Litterati app will win a “Trash Trophy” created by renowned local artist Gary Sweeney and a Mission Reach kayaking tour for 25 people.

As we commemorate Earth Day this year, we reflect on and recommit our vision of inspiring actions for healthy creeks and rivers throughout our watershed. With dedication and perseverance, we can all ensure safe, clean, and enjoyable waterways for generations to come. The decisions we each make today and in the coming years will profoundly impact the world we leave behind. Our choices matter, and we must each do our part.

Have a wonderful Earth Day,

Derek