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Time to pay the Pied Piper at SAWS

It’s time to pay the Pied Piper at SAWS who brought you 52% rate hikes (and anything goes after 2020) via Vista Ridge, an unnecessarily massive groundwater transfer that threatens more than just rates. Before you do, watch this KSAT-TV report on October 1. Enjoy!

According to legend, the Pied Piper, lured rats away. But when it came time to pay him, citizens refused to pay. The Piper then used his instrument to lure the children away.

The similarities of Vista Ridge to the legend stops there because as far as we know, the Pied Piper never lied to his customers.

It’s now time for SAWS ratepayers to pay for the project heavily promoted by the SAWS Pied Pipers – a legion of attorneys, public relations people and lobbyists. Starting in April 2020, landowners will pay with a massive transfer of water out from underneath them into the Vista Ridge pipeline.

Regardless, SAWS can no longer hide that Vista Ridge is most expensive water in Texas. They also can’t hide that they cannot use nearly one-third of the water (15K acre-feet/year) for the life of the contract – 30 years. In February, 2018, in fact, SAWS told the San Antonio City Council they were trying to sell off those 15K acre feet, to no avail.

Why in the Heck does Vista Ridge Want More Water?

James Murphy, Esq., attorney for landowner, Sidney Zgabay, surrounded by Vista Ridge’s CEO Ross Cummings (L), attorney Paul Terrill (R), and Vista Ridge hydrologist James Bene of R. W. Harden & Associates on far right.

Last July, the private partners for Vista Ridge filed for additional water, approximately 5,000 acre-feet of water per year for 30 years. The permit just came before the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District Board in Milam County on October 3.

Board Members of Post Oak and local landowners in attendance wanted to kno

w why Vista Ridge is asking for more water when San Antonio cannot use it. Lee County Judge Paul Fischer was particularly insistent on this point. Thank you, Judge!

Vista Ridge attorney, Paul Terrill, danced about and around answering this question.

Michele Gangnes, attorney and landowner from the Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund, pointed out that Post Oak’s own rules require an answer to this question and others. Read her testimony here.

Though Judith McGeary of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and Milam County farmer, was unable to attend the hearing, she, as usual, did her homework. McGeary, an attorney with substantial knowledge on water issues, covered some of important concerns about the water leases that underlie Vista Ridge, suggesting a thorough review by the District. Read it here.

The good news is the hearing was “continued” for another date, which gives landowner, Sidney Zgabay (R), and his attorney time to prepare a contest to this permit. The Zgabay family has owned their property for over 100 years and feels it will be harmed by Vista Ridge pumping. Sidney plans to pass that land on to his heirs, unspoiled. On the left with Sidney, is Walter Hurd, a neighbor who celebrated his 77th birthday attending the hearing.

“What We Do Making…San Antonio Waterful” …the Rate Advisory Committee

That phrase in quotes is prominently displayed on the SAWS website homepage.

Perhaps this is the simple answer the question. SAWS wants to claim San Antonio is “waterful” (a made up word) in order to keep wooing people to the area.

But, just how this benefits ratepayers now is something we hope the SAWS Rate Advisory Committee members will be asking. At the first meeting of the RAC, held on September 24, there were a number of questions about Vista Ridge.

The RAC’s next meeting is on Wednesday, October 16 at 6 pm at the SAWS. We hope to see some of your smiling…or not…faces there. Here’s the RAC’s webpage at SAWS.

Ratepayers and Landowners Unite! Call your officials.

The Vista Ridge Resolution calls for a thorough review and audit of Vista Ridge and ordinance for proper oversight at SAWS. Now, all you reading this have to do is make the calls to your officials. What you need is here on the Vista Ridge page.

As Ben Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Let’s Hang Together! Again, all you need is right here on our Vista Ridge page.

And, never hesitate to call us at 512.213.4511 or send us a note at

Thanks to Andy Wier for the great photos.

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