SAN ANTONIO -- Annalisa Peace is with the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance
The environmental group worked with students at Texas State University to complete a study and map outlining 1700 sewage leaks or spills affecting the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone between 2004 to 2012.
"I think it's serious and I think the scientists we talked to really think this is a very serious problem."
Brady Nock, a graduate of Texas State University, helped with the three-month study and mapping of problems along the recharge zone.
"Water that flows over that land comes into cracks in the rock and enters underground water and the water would be contaminated," he said.
It’s water Bexar County citizens drink. So how did these spills happen?
"Sometimes it's vandalism, sometimes it's malfunctioning parts of the system or another was because someone flushed rags down the toilet," according to Peace.
The executive director of GEAA
said construction crews have hit pipelines causing leaks too.
She thinks the city needs to limit construction in what’s considered an environmental sensitive area.
"We are one of the few cities in the U-S where we don't have to pre-treat our water and we just take it right out of the Edwards," she added.
We’re told the data in the study came from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ
Peace said the San Antonio Water System is responsible for pipelines, but not all the problems.
is making an effort to detect these leaks sooner and take this really seriously," she said.
Peace thinks the cost of environmental safety inspections, or clean up, could potentially result in higher utility bills for customers.
Anne Kenny Hayden, SAWS
Communication Manager, gave us a response to the study.
“Mapping is a great opportunity to visualize the problem areas of sewer spills but the report is incomplete. Spills over the Recharge Zone that are outside San Antonio are omitted.
Some of the spills, in the report, were actually recycled water. We are required to report these spills to TCEQ, but they are not sewer spills and do not cause environmental impacts. SAWS
treats 125 million gallons of sewage a day, the study report indicates that there was 809,000 gallons of sewage spilled over five years.
Any escape of sewage from our system is too much, but 99.9% of waste water never escapes our system.
Decentralizing sewage treatment, as they are suggesting, is much more expensive to operate.”
Hayden added, SAWS
is always looking for ways to help customers conserve water.