Eco-Living Magazine

Five Friday Facts: Sewer Water, Drought, and San Antonio

Posted on the 07 October 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Five Friday Facts: Sewer Water, Drought, and San AntonioEven in the middle of a historic drought, San Antonio, Texas has managed to keep the San Antonio River flowing through the River Walk area of downtown. What’s their secret? Treated sewage water. Here are a few facts from an NPR article on the river.

  • To keep the river flowing, the city used to have to pump up to 5 million gallons a day from its precious supply, the Edwards Aquifer. Now, by using a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, the city produces high-quality, recycled water that’s just shy of being drinkable.
  • San Antonio’s River Walk is not alone in using the treatment plant. Big industrial customers like the Toyota manufacturing plant, Microsoft Data Center, USAA Insurance and the city’s golf courses also take part. More than 60 miles of recycled-water pipeline built in the last decade now snake through San Antonio.
  • The plant is hitting it’s goal to save a billion gallons of water every single year.
  • The number of gallons per consumer in San Antonio per day that is used has gone down from just over 200 to about 130 over the last two decades.
  • As important as the conservation is, what’s really saving San Antonio right now is its aquifer-storage system. During times when the rains are plenty and the Edwards Aquifer is full, San Antonio aggressively pumps the water out and stores it 40 miles away in a sand formation  called the Carrizo. Nobody knows how much water the Carrizo could ultimately store, perhaps as much as 65 billion gallons.


  • Bonus fact about Sea World in Texas: At Sea World, they’ve  cut their monthly water use from 8 million gallons to 4 million gallons in the last three years. When Shamu splashes the lower rows with fountains of water from his 5-million-gallon tank, the water that looks like it’s going down the drain is actually headed for capture. In fact, Sea World has built its own on-site water-filtration system.

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