Editorial: Flawed Vista Ridge project doesn’t make sense

In February 2014, San Antonio Water System CEO Robert Puente informed us that SAWS would not pursue the Abengoa Vista Ridge water supply project, or AVR, because the project was too risky. He was quoted as saying: “Groundwater law in Texas leaves too much uncertainty and risk for the private and public sectors.” Instead, SAWS recommended the phased-in expansion of their brackish groundwater desalination to provide additional supply.

Within days, SAWS backtracked, announcing it would work with Abengoa to find a “solution” to the risk that the water needed to pay for the project would not be available. Ultimately, a solution was arrived at and a contract signed in which Abengoa accepted 100 percent of the risk and liability for the construction, financing and operation of the pipeline.

 In return, SAWS ratepayers assumed a liability of $750 million to $850 million to pay for that risk. They also assumed the liability of buying as much as 700,000 acre-feet of water San Antonio does not need. Another liability is that in wet years, when no AVR water is needed, ratepayers will pay 500 percent more for AVR water instead of available Edwards Aquifer water. And none of this reduces the original risk that AVR will not be able to deliver the water promised to San Antonio… More from SA Express-News