Wasting water is a sore point in drought-prone South Texas, and San Antonio Water System (SAWS) seeks to husband this precious resource the best it can. The company serves about 460,000 water and 399,000 wastewater customers, or about 1.6 million people, in the San Antonio metropolitan area (including most of the city of San Antonio, several suburban municipalities, and adjacent parts of Bexar County). In addition to serving its own retail customers, SAWS provides wholesale water supplies to several smaller utility systems in its service area. The utility is owned by the City of San Antonio.
SAWS oversees more than 9,000 miles of water and sewer mains.
The water and wastewater utility expects its population base to increase from 1 million in 2006 to 2.2 million by 2050, and its water demand to double during the same time period. Faced with a regional long term drought scenario, SAWS is pushing conservation measures.
To avoid costly federal litigation over alleged Clean Water Act violations, in 2013 SAWS agreed to invest an additional $492 million in infrastructure and maintenance to reduce sewer spills in San Antonio under a settlement with the EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
SAWS is owned by the City of San Antonio.
SAWS and a neighboring water authority, the Lower Colorado River Authority, signed an agreement in 2002 to study the feasibility of drawing water from the lower Colorado River basin for use by San Antonio. The LCRA reported in 2009 that it had found that there was not a sufficient amount of extra water available to build a proposed reservoir. SAWS sued LCRA for $1.2 billion over the results of the study, but the suit was tossed out by a state district judge.
SAWS was formed in 1992 through a merger of three entities: the City Water Board, the City Wastewater Department, and the Alamo Water Conservation and Reuse District.