Learn about the River Authority Utilities Development Team

The River Authority
Jun 10, 2022

Welcome to our first installment of the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) Utilities series. As we outlined in the introduction to this series, we will share what each team within our wastewater utility does, why it is essential, and how it impacts you!

This blog will dive into the River Authority Utilities Development Team!

What does the Development Team do?

This team of four uses their expertise to review proposals for new real estate developments in the River Authority's service area. Before roads are paved or developments are built, electrical, water, and sewer pipes must be installed. During and after the construction process, the inspectors on the Development Team review and approve the work being done by the developers' construction crews. Once the development has been built and approved, the River Authority Utilities accepts ownership and begins managing these sewage collection lines.

The Five Steps for New Developments

There are five linear steps the Development Team uses to guide new developments. These steps include:

  1. Project Development
  2. Initiation
  3. Construction
  4. Final Acceptance
  5. Inspection of individual connections

In the Project Development phase, a developer begins communication with the Development Team by inquiring about existing sewer infrastructure. The existing infrastructure determines how easy it will be to extend sewer service to the undeveloped property. Using this information, the developer then submits a New Development Service Application, which documents specific details about a proposed development. The Development Team reviews the application to ensure that the River Authority Utilities Department can support the development as presented or if additional criteria must be met. If the Development Team provides approval to proceed, it indicates the project can be supported by the Utilities Department, and the developer will move on to the Initiation Phase.

San Antonio River Authority Manhole cover

The Initiation Phase is where a Utility Service Agreement (USA) begins to be formed. The USA is an agreement between the developer and the River Authority. This agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of each party for sewer service extension. It includes the River Authority's required fees and technical specifications.

Once an agreement has been reached, the developer can begin the Construction Phase. Infrastructure must be laid before construction, such as roads, homes, and businesses can be built. Typically, sewer lines are laid first, then water and dry utilities (electrical and communication lines). The Development Team inspectors look over the construction with an expert eye throughout this process. River Authority Inspectors also oversee the extensive testing of the infrastructure being built to ensure the quality of construction.

A new sewer main is installed in a trench. This will eventually be located under a roadway.

A new sewer main is installed in a trench. This will eventually be located under a roadway.

The last two phases, Final Acceptance and Inspection of individual connections, go hand in hand. In these phases, the River Authority does a final review and ensures that the infrastructure has been installed correctly. The River Authority then takes ownership of the newly constructed and developed sewer lines. In addition to the publicly maintained infrastructure, each home or business is tied to that system with individual connections. Our Development Team inspects each of these connections added to the new public sewer collection lines. They oversee the beginning of this important sewer infrastructure that will be maintained by the River Authority for the next 50+ years. This amount of time is the industry-wide estimated service life of new sewer collection infrastructure. 

installation of a new sewer lateral and cleanout for a new-build single family residence that is connected to the publicly maintained sewer line.

Installation of a new sewer lateral and cleanout for a new-build single-family residence that is connected to the publicly maintained sewer line.

What does this mean for me?

Because their work is often behind-the-scenes, many people are not aware of the Development Team's critical services in working with developers to plan and build sewer lines. Their work allows community members to not think about the water that flows down kitchen sinks, showers, bathtubs, and the water flushed down toilets. The daily work of the River Authority Utilities Team and utilities teams everywhere allows us to enjoy more sanitary and healthier lives.

Look for our second Utilities Series installment coming soon!

The River Reach is back!

River Reach is a quarterly, 12-page newsletter that is designed to inform the San Antonio River Authority's constituents about the agency's many projects, serve as a communication vehicle for the board of directors and foster a sense of unity and identity among the residents of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties.

If you wish to be placed on the mailing list for River Reach, please contact us or complete the form here.