Austin-San Antonio Water Quality: Yesterday
Smack dab in the state’s heart, the Central Texas region has fiercely protected and valued its water since the Spanish settled the area in the 16th century. One of the earliest cities established in Texas, San Antonio was founded by the Spanish in 1718. Like the contemporary city’s aquifers, the Spanish established acequias or irrigation canals, which ran along the Edwards Aquifer. Residents strove to keep the canals contaminant-free – even planting cacti along their banks to keep animals away. The system persisted for nearly 150 years – until a severe cholera outbreak caused officials to establish a more traditional water system. Today, San Antonio residents pump more than 154 million gallons of groundwater from the Edwards aquifer daily. Learn more about the history of water distribution in San Antonio by watching the video below:
Like current residents today, early Austinites drew their drinking water from the Colorado River. The first permanent settlement wouldn’t come until the village of Waterloo was founded in 1837 where the Colorado River and the Shoal Creek converge. Named for legendary forefather Stephen F. Austin, the future capital of Texas would not be chartered until 1839, and the city’s water system would not be established for another 40 years. The city’s first dam, clocking in at 60-feet high, was build in 1893, that is, until a catastrophic failure seven years later that flooded or destroyed parts of the city.