Aquifer Protection Program
For inquiries contact Bruce A. Fried, Land Conservation.
The Edwards Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for more than 2 million people in south central Texas. In 2000, the citizens of San Antonio recognized the need to protect this unique resource that is so vital for health, recreation, and economic growth and approved a 1/8-cent local sales tax to fund the identification and purchase of sensitive properties over the aquifer. The properties ranged in size from 42 to 1,164 acres, located primarily in north central and northwest Bexar County.
The City of San Antonio selected Green Spaces Alliance – along with The Nature Conservancy of Texas and the Trust for Public Land – to help implement Proposition Three. Green Spaces Alliance’s work on the project resulted in the acquisition of more than 1,800 acres of aquifer-protecting parkland for the public.
In 2005 and again in 2010, San Antonio’s voters approved another 1/8-cent sales tax to fund the protection of the Edwards Aquifer. Under Proposition One, the City of San Antonio was authorized to purchase conservation easements on private property located over the sensitive Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone in Bexar, Medina, and Uvalde Counties.
At the start of the program, a team of experts developed scientific criteria — geological, biological, and hydrological — to evaluate which land was most valuable to the goal of aquifer protection. The City of San Antonio then selected two land agencies — Green Spaces Alliance and Texas Nature Conservancy — to work with landowners who wished to participate in the City of San Antonio program by placing conservation easements on their property in willing seller-willing buyer transactions. The sales tax revenues fund the due diligence activities associated with the evaluations – appraisals, surveys, and environmental baseline documentation – as well as payments to the landowners to purchase their development rights and support for the program’s administrative costs, including monitoring to ensure easement compliance over time.
Total area protected by the City’s Aquifer Protection Program exceeds 119,000 acres. Green Spaces’ work on Proposition One has helped protect more than 37,000 of those acres. One of the protected properties – the Record Buck Ranch – includes the Seco Sinkhole, which contributes hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to the aquifer every year.