My River POV: Melissa Bryant

The River Authority
Oct 16, 2020
General

The “My River POV” series provides readers the opportunity to learn about the unique insight and experiences of River Authority staff and their personal connection to the San Antonio River in hopes of inspiring stewardship of our creeks and rivers.

River Authority Director of Technical Services Melissa Bryant

Melissa Bryant, Director of Technical Services

I moved to San Antonio back in 2002 when I started working for the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority).  Some of my initial memories of the San Antonio River were conducting environmental site assessments to begin the work that would soon transform the city: the San Antonio River Improvements Project. As I think back to those days, I am amazed at the jewel that has been created and built over the years and the transformation we have seen in San Antonio.  I am an active outdoor person who loves to run, bike, and kayak on the river frequently, so I thoroughly enjoy all the linear trails in the basin.

River Authority Director of Technical Services Melissa Bryant enjoying the San Antonio River Walk

As Director of Technical Services, I appreciate all the passion and hard work from my team to ensure we continue to improve the water quality and promote sustainable practices throughout the San Antonio River Basin. The increase in native fish and bird species we see as well as the recreational opportunities we have today along the river are amazing. Protecting the investment that has been made in restoring the river is important work for the River Authority, and we need the community’s help! Many people are unaware of the implications their actions can have on the health of the basin. What we all do in our own yards and neighborhoods can affect the health of area creeks and river. Actions like protecting riparian areas, picking up trash and pet waste, not over fertilizing, using pervious pavements, or even building a rain garden at your home can help the San Antonio River and its tributaries.  

River Authority staff conducting field sampling on the San Antonio River.

The River Authority’s team of scientists have collected water samples over the years and found that during normal, sunny days, most of creeks and rivers in our area meet the swimmable water criteria as set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The data shows that after storm events there are large amounts of bacteria and pollutants in area creeks and rivers. This is because all the runoff from a storm flows down into the river from all roadways, sidewalks, rooftops, and other impervious surfaces in our community.  For this reason, the River Authority promotes land use methods that, when implemented, will help protect and preserve area natural resources as the community continues to develop. 

The team of stormwater professionals and engineers at the River Authority have identified ways to sustainably mitigate development with Green Infrastructure.  As our city makes improvements to roadways or continues to develop properties, it’s a great opportunity to incorporate best management practices for slowing down the rain and allowing it to soak in natural areas and get cleaned before draining into area creeks and rivers.  We, as a community, need to promote the use of tree wells, rain gardens, and pervious pavements to be used on roadways and properties in order to manage the rainwater.  This is a multi-benefit opportunity to clean our storm water, manage localized flooding, benefit the heat island impacts, and provide aesthetically pleasing areas that improve our quality of life.

River Authority Director of Technical Services Melissa Bryant's home rain garden.

This is something my team takes to heart and, as a result, several River Authority staff have created a Residential Rain Garden Club.  We take time personally on weekends to build residential rain gardens at each other’s houses.  The rain garden we built at my house captures half the runoff from my house, allows the water to slow down and soak in, then cleans any water that runs off my property before going into the storm drain which drains directly into the San Antonio River. It’s a great amenity to my backyard that I’m proud of, and it allows me to explain to everyone that visits my home the importance of the work we do here at the River Authority.