You might be asking yourself, what human activities degrade our river’s health and why are those threats important? Well, thank you for asking, and you’ve come to the right place to find out!
Threats to the San Antonio River
The threats to the health of the San Antonio River are mounting as our city grows.
We all live in a watershed, an area of land where all of the rain that falls on it, flows to a particular creek or river based on elevation features of the area.
Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties have many watersheds that drain to creeks or rivers, but all of them eventually flow into the San Antonio River.
Our creeks and rivers are negatively impacted by many different types of pollution and other factors, but the main threat is stormwater runoff.
Stormwater runoff is rainfall that has fallen onto hardened surfaces, such as streets, roofs, compacted ground, and driveways, and then picked up the various pollutants that are on those surfaces, and carried them into the storm drain and stream systems. Those pollutants include, but are not limited to, oil, fertilizers, bacteria, heavy metals, gasoline, and sediment.
Did you know that, in San Antonio, stormwater does not drain into a sanitary sewer system to be cleaned; it flows directly into our creeks and rivers, untreated, through a network of streets and storm drains?
Polluted water in the San Antonio River harms more than just fish and wildlife in our local area. Runoff from our watersheds flows all the way to San Antonio Bay. Thus, water from the San Antonio River has direct impacts on the health of wildlife in the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
But there is hope! The San Antonio River Authority is committed to reducing the polluted stormwater runoff that drains into our creeks and rivers. Improved water quality allowed for the release of juvenile Guadalupe Bass into the river.
To do that, the River Authority utilizes and recommends Low Impact Development (LID). LID is a sustainable land planning and engineering design approach to managing stormwater runoff as close as possible to the source. This emphasizse the use of on-site natural drainage features, maintains or enhances the site’s hydrologic characteristics after development, reduces overall imperviousness, and polishes stormwater for quality.
Examples of LID features, also known as Best Management Practices (BMPs) are Cisterns and Bioretention.
There are several key components of a sustainable watershed—and these components are not mutually exclusive. – They all work together to create a healthy watershed. And, there are human behaviors that have positive impacts on the river’s health and others that impact rivers negatively.