What does 20 million gallons of water look like? Starting this summer, Stone Oak residents will get an idea of the scope of San Antonio’s future water security in their own backyard.
Emerging over the next 20 months, just down the hill from Las Lomas Elementary School off Hardy Oak Boulevard, is something akin to the spigot of San Antonio’s next major source of water aside from the Edwards Aquifer.
Two fat, 81.5-foot-high tanks bookending the property will hold 10 million gallons apiece as part of the Vista Ridge project. On-site processing facilities will process nearly 50 million gallons daily.
“This is going to be the biggest water-storage facility we have,” said Alissa Lockett, San Antonio Water System director of engineering for the Vista Ridge Integration Project.
Older North Side water-storage facilities are also getting makeovers. That includes reversing water flows uphill from south to north to the opposite direction. The water will then flow downhill from Stone Oak into the city.
Most visible in the ambitious $840 million SAWS project is the Terminus Treatment Plant, which eventually will be given a friendlier name than the engineering term for the ground-storage tanks.
The plant will receive 45 million gallons of water per day from the 142-mile-long Vista Ridge pipeline running from a gathering site in Burleson County above the Carrizo Aquifer. The cost over the next three decades is about $2.8 billion.
Over the years, some San Antonians looked at the project and purchase as a boondoggle. Others believed piping in more water from Central Texas is needed to spur future growth.
The bitter furor over the water pipeline has mostly died down. SAWS is moving forward so San Antonio will be less reliant on the Edwards.
About 70 to 80 percent of the city’s water now comes from the Edwards and “Vista Ridge is the capstone” of those efforts to bring dependence on the Edwards to about 50 percent of the total supply, said Anne Hayden, a spokeswoman for the water utility.
Site construction at the terminus began in May and erection of the first tank begins soon. Garney Construction, a private partner, will pay for the second receptacle, to be operated by SAWS.
Hayden said the tanks would be tan with no logos and unobtrusive.
Lockett said plans also call for an 8-foot-high fence enclosure with barbed wire at the top.
Heavy contract construction on the terminus site begins in December, as well as the downstream pipeline enhancements. A shaft will be dug on the nearby Cornerstone Church property.
The tunnel will connect the Stone Oak terminus to a 48-inch pipeline in Hollywood Park.
SAWS officials said they’ve listened to community concerns over the course of several meetings.
For example, one controversy centers on some lane closures. To accommodate traffic to and from institutions such as Reagan High School, an agreement specifies the contractor can’t begin work until after 9 a.m.