April 23


It rolls downhill: GEAA maps sewage spills over the aquifer

A sewage leak map developed by GEAA and GEOTEXA sewage leak map developed by GEAA and GEOTEXGEAA takes aim at one of the backbones of development: sewer systems.

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance unveiled an interactive map Friday that documents sewage spills in a 15-county region over the aquifer during the past eight years. Like most visual data, it’s rather more persuasive than the sheer numbers alone – all those black dots and gray circles on top of the recharge zone, where San Antonio's main source of water meets the land. According to records the researchers collected, more than 800,000 gallons of raw sewage – equal to roughly 2.5 acre feet – were spilled in the recharge zone in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Region 13, which includes Bexar, between 2008 and May 2012.

The sewage-spill map is just one piece of the research GEAA is conducting into human waste disposal over the aquifer. The organization, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization, is exploring whether centralized sewer systems such as SAWS are the best solution in the ecologically sensitive area over the Edwards contributing and recharge zones. GEAA Executive Director Analisa Peace suggested Friday that methods such as septic systems might make more sense. But developers tend to disfavor them, she said, since regulations allow fewer residences per acre on septic systems than on centralized utility systems.

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