Yesterday the Lone Star Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and Galveston Bay Foundation released a comprehensive score card of Texas water utilities, rating their performance on water conservation. Austin scored tops, with 90%. San Antonio, once the undisputed leader in urban water conservation, scored only 73%.

You might ask why the steep fall from grace? SA lost the most points because its estimated water loss from leaky pipes, breaks, and other system losses is almost 15% of total water use. That’s a lot of wasted water. Yet, while the City is failing to take care of its own water pipes, it’s taking desperate measures to keep alive its proposed 142-mile, $3.4 billion project to pipe other peoples’ groundwater to San Antonio. This so-called “Vista Ridge” project has been aggressively opposed by a regional coalition of rural landowners, urban environmentalists and social justice and fiscal conservative activists. 

When you are spending that much money trying to grab water from that far away, you just don’t have the money or the need to save water. The scandalous Vista Ridge project has been in the ditch since San Antonio’s private partner, the Spanish construction giant, Abengoa, plunged into the Spanish version of bankruptcy. But SA keeps trying to resurrect the deal – instead of investing in much cheaper and reliable sources of water – conservation, reuse, and locally sourced water.