SA to Vote on Renewing Edwards Aquifer, Linear Park Programs

The Edwards Aquifer feeds the gorgeous Comal springs. - "COMAL SPRINGS 2007" BY LARRY D. MOORE - © 2007 LARRY D. MOORE. LICENSED UNDER CC BY-SA 3.0 VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
"Comal springs 2007" by Larry D. Moore - © 2007 Larry D. Moore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The Edwards Aquifer feeds the gorgeous Comal springs.

For approximately 15 years, the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program has utilized sales tax revenue to purchase conservation easements over recharge and contributing zones of the Edwards Aquifer, protecting the land from future development.

But those efforts aren't possible without voter approval. And in May 2015, San Antonio voters will choose whether to renew the program, which since its formation in 2000, has been used to purchase 130,000 acres of conservation easements, protecting an equivalent of 36 billion gallons of water a year, according to a news release.

Most recently, the City of San Antonio and three other partners worked together to save land in the flight path of the Bracken Bat Cave, which was threatened by development. This was last October.

San Antonio City Council members Ray Lopez, District 6, and Ron Nirenberg, District 8, filed a Council Consideration Request Monday, directing City staff to start the process of getting a a ballot item to see whether voters will approve continuation of the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program and the Linear Creekway Parks Development Program.

The Linear Creekway Parks Development Program uses sales tax revenue to buy land used to develop the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System, which currently has 46 miles of open trails for the public and another 40 miles under development. According to a news release, many of San Antonio's creeks have trails built on them or planned for them, including Salado, Leon, Huebner, Olmos, Huesta, Culebra, Alazan, Apache, Martinez, San Pedro and the Medina River. The goal is to create a ring of public park space surrounding the Alamo City. As of now, the system has roughly 1,200 acres of open space.

Lopez said the trail system provides a tremendous benefit to San Antonio residents by encouraging them to live healthy, active life styles while possibly providing an additional mode of transportation and mobility once the system is fully connected around the city.

"These are the investments we must make today to ensure the future health and vitality of our city for generations to come," Lopez said in a news release.

The programs are funded by 1/8th-cent sales tax, which requires voter approval. The programs were approved in 2000, 2005 and 2010. Funds from the last ballot will be fully collected and allocated by early 2016.

"San Antonio voters have long recognized that our economy and quality of life rest on protecting the water and green spaces that drew people here centuries ago," Nirenberg said in a news release. "That's why they have supported these programs so strongly for the last 15 years. In countless conversations with the community, it's abundantly clear that San Antonians again want the opportunity to vote for clean water and public lands."

According to the news release, council members Roberto Treviño, District 1; Alan Warrick, District 2; and Mike Gallagher, District 10, co-signed the request.

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