San Antonio is blessed with two key attributes that set it apart from many cities and make it a great place to live: we are situated atop an abundant source of clean, fresh drinking water from the Edwards Aquifer, and we possess a wealth of beauty amid the rivers, creeks, hills and trees that make up our natural surroundings.
Access to plentiful and inexpensive water has been essential to San Antonio’s health, economy, and quality of life historically, and it will be even more important in the future as our population grows. The natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation that we enjoy here are equally critical to making San Antonio a great city now and in the years to come.
Most San Antonians recognize the importance of protecting the Edwards Aquifer (our primary source of drinking water) and expanding the city’s Creekways Hike & Bike Trails through approval of Propositions 1 and 2 on the ballot on November 2.
These propositions have been endorsed by Mayor Julián Castro, County Judge Nelson Wolff, Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, and The Nature Conservancy for their contributions to our natural heritage, our health, and our way of life. The Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognize them also as crucial for a healthy business climate.
Proposition 1 continues aquifer-protection measures that have permanently protected nearly 98,000 acres in the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones. The measure will raise an additional $90 million to acquire land or perpetual conservation agreements from willing sellers. According to the Texas Water Development Board, San Antonio’s water demands are expected to increase 30 percent by 2040.
Rapid growth and development reduce the amount of land available for aquifer protection and increase its cost. The natural resources we protect today will sustain our economic development in the future and protect our natural lands and wildlife. To ensure our tax dollars are spent responsibly, Proposition 1 provides for both science and citizen oversight.
Proposition 2 will expand a spectacular system of Creekways Hike & Bike Trails in linear parks along our city’s beautiful creeks and rivers by raising $45 million to continue land acquisition and trail construction. More than 1,100 acres of creek frontage have been acquired by this program since 2000, and 22 miles of trails have been built along Leon and Salado creeks and the Medina River. Four new segments under construction will add 14 miles to the system, with four more segments in design adding another nine miles.
These greenways significantly enhance our city’s park system and provide new recreational resources. Continued funding will expand the trail system even further and include creeks on the city’s West Side, helping to revitalize those communities and providing important drainage improvements and new places for recreation and exercise. These parks will give our kids and grandkids opportunities to enjoy nature the way we do.
No new taxes are needed for Propositions 1 and 2. Funding will come from the continuation of a 1/8-cent sales tax originally approved by voters in 2000 and reauthorized in 2005.
We ask San Antonians to continue to protect the Edwards Aquifer and expand our precious parklands by getting out to vote for Propositions 1 and 2 and to encourage friends, neighbors, and family members to do the same. Our heritage, our economy, and our quality of life now and for future generations depend on having pure, safe, reliable drinking water and beautiful parks. •
Susan Hughes is the executive director of Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas. Howard Peak was mayor of San Antonio between 1997 and 2001.
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