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Radical Conservation

All across the news, scientists, politicians, and pundits are warning of the need to protect our water resources.  With historic droughts across parts of the southern and western parts of the U.S., many are already facing extreme water scarcity.

Though the culprits of issues with water quantity and quality are easily identified—over-development, pollution, climate change—the solutions are less clear.  Larger dams ensure a larger water supply but they negatively affect downstream neighbors.  Pollution regulations help to clean up waterways, but they can be expensive and difficult to enforce.  Piping water longer and longer distances ensures water supply today but does nothing to address future challenges, while becoming increasingly expensive.

For years, the City of San Antonio attempted all of these fixes, each time finding itself facing the same challenges only a few years later.  Realizing it had to address the root of the problem, the city partnered with The Nature Conservancy to protect the aquifers that feed San Antonio’s water supply.  The city and The Conservancy approached ranch owners offering them the opportunity to put their land under easement in exchange for generous tax credits, funded by a voter-approved tax on consumer goods.  Though landowners were at first hesitant to give up their rights to develop the land, they quickly realized easements could be the key to helping them hold onto their lands for generations to come.

Today, San Antonio and The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with many landowners, have conserved over 125,000 acres of critical land within the local aquifer.  The effort has protected the area’s water supply into the foreseeable future and was accomplished at a much lower cost than traditional, infrastructure-heavy approaches.

We encourage you to read more about this collaboration among city officials, The Nature Conservancy, and landowners to preserve this important aquifer.


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