River Authority Announces Inclusion of Westside Creeks in Administration's FY 22 Budget
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) announced today that $2.34 million in the President’s Budget was allocated to the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project (Westside Creeks) for the initial tranche of Preconstruction Engineering Design funding. The final federal funding amount for Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) is subject to Congress’ completion of the annual appropriation bills. Bexar County is the local funding partner while the River Authority is the local project sponsor with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Bexar County federal delegation has strongly advocated for the project. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) has been utilizing his position as a senior member of the Committee on Appropriations to help secure funding. The other Congressmen who have been leading the charge to support the Westside Creeks project include Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), the project is within his district, as well as Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Tony Gonzales (TX-23), whose districts are immediately adjacent to the project area. When completed, the Westside Creeks project will provide benefits to all four Congressional districts.
“The Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project is a critical investment for the community. As a Senior Member for the Appropriations Committee, I have been working to secure funding for this project for several years. I am pleased to see that this is also a priority for the Administration and will continue to work with my colleagues to make sure that it is funded,” said Congressman Cuellar. “It is vital that we continue to prioritize this environmental restoration project to promote access to natural environments, and improve water quality, for residents in my district.”
Congressmen Doggett commented that, “President Biden’s endorsement of the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project is encouraging. This is a way to mitigate flooding, provide new recreational green space, and encourage more tourist dollars to flow into local businesses while preserving the cultural and historic roots of the Westside.”
Congressman Castro expressed his support saying, “The inclusion of the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project in President Biden’s proposed budget gives real hope that this important revitalization effort will be funded and completed. For generations, the West Side of San Antonio has not benefited from significant infrastructure investment in flood control and basic transportation opportunities like bike lanes and sidewalks, and I welcome this progress for our community. San Antonio’s historic westside creeks — Alazán, Apache, Martinez, San Pedro, and Zarzamora — will be a source of city pride and family enjoyment.”
Concurring, Congressman Gonzales stated, “I was encouraged to see the President’s FY 22 Budget include $2,340,000 in General Investigations funding for San Antonio’s Westside Creeks. This project would revitalize economically and environmentally distressed areas in San Antonio. I appreciate areas of our district being a priority in this Administration’s budget and look forward to working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to pass a fiscally responsible budget that will benefit all Americans.”
The Westside Creeks project will transform 11 miles of Alazán, Apache, Martinez, and San Pedro creeks by restoring the aquatic ecosystems with native grasses, wildflowers, and trees. The project will also reconstruct the creeks into more natural channels, while also maintaining the present level of flood mitigation protection. Using ecosystem restoration and recreation benefits as a foundation, the project will provide significant environmental justice and community benefits, such as improving environmental and water quality conditions in a densely populated urban area; promoting comprehensive watershed management; advancing neighborhood transportation safety; providing access to outdoor recreation activities in the Westside core; and reconnecting residents to urban creekway systems through an outdoor living classroom for students of all ages to explore and learn about a restored urban ecosystem.
Bexar County has been a leading local advocate for the Westside Creeks project having made it their number one federal appropriations request. County Judge Nelson Wolff and Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez had numerous conversations with the Bexar County federal delegation asking for their support for project funding. Precinct 2 Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez said, “This is a significant step for the Westside Creeks project and we’re very pleased the President included it in his budget. I, along with our federal partners, have long advocated for a meaningful investment in our community’s westside. This commitment will allow us to begin the important work of ecosystem restoration in the heart of San Antonio.”
The Westside Creeks project is a community-based creek restoration effort started in 2008 by the River Authority. The project’s focus is to restore the creekways that were channelized as part of a 1954 federal flood control project known as the San Antonio Channel Improvement Project. To advance the project over the years since its inception, the River Authority has worked closely with Bexar County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of San Antonio, and the two co-chairs and representatives of 20 local community organizations that comprise the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee.
Upon learning that funding was included in the President’s Budget for the Westside Creeks project, River Authority Board Chairman Darrell Brownlow said, “This is great news for the San Antonio River Basin, as we continue to restore impaired creek and river ecosystems that improve the overall health for the community to enjoy.”
River Authority Bexar County District 2 Board Member Lourdes Galvan, who represents the community where the project is located, said, “I was so happy to learn of the project being in President Biden’s budget as the Westside community has been anxious to get the ecosystem restoration underway so they can once again enjoy the creeks that run through the neighborhoods. I want to thank the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee for their relentless attention and continued support for the project.”