The greater San Antonio area is experiencing rapid population growth and expansion. This growth will benefit from development which accounts for the need to protect and appreciate our shared natural resources. By employing sustainable development practices, we can protect not only the San Antonio area rivers and streams, but the entire San Antonio River Watershed, which spans all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and accounts for over 8800 miles or creeks, rivers,and streams!
Here are some recommendations for sustainable land planning and development
Increasing Urban Tree Canopy
Increasing Urban Tree Canopy can result in the absorption of more rainfall, and decreased temperatures. Trees put down deep roots, which allow for stormwater to absorb into the soil. Trees also provide habitat for wildlife, as well as shade, which leads to reduced temperatures. These reduced temperatures help to reduce the “urban heat island”, caused by impervious surfaces radiating heat in urban environments.
Incorporate Low Impact Development Features
Low impact development features such as rain gardens, vegetated swales, bioswales, cisterns, permeable pavers, and green roofs can result in stormwater being treated on site, allowing for pollutants, such as bacteria to be captured, and filtered out of the water. Stormwater, is not treated at a water treatment plant prior to flowing back into creeks and rivers. If stormwater is not treated on site before it flows down driveways and streets into the storm drain, it can carry all of the pollutants that it picks up from the roads and driveways, straight to our creeks and rivers. Low impact development features also provide a visual amenity to the city scape, as well as further ecological functions of temperature moderation (reducing the effect of the “urban heat island”), and habitat to pollinators, and other species.
Preserve Open Green Spaces
These unpaved green spaces allow storm water to absorb into the soil, and be treated on site. This reduces the pollution and bacteria load entering our streams.
Allow For Increased Access to Green Spaces
Providing access to open green spaces often leads to reports of an increased quality of life, lowered stress levels, and improved health overall.
Limiting the Usage of Impervious Cover in Future Development
Impervious cover, such as traditionally paved surfaces, allow stormwater to drain off in sheets, gathering all the pollutants (brake dust, hydrocarbons, etc.) and draining them directly into our creeks and rivers. Using permeable pavement wherever possible can provide a reduction in radiant heat (lowering the effect of the “urban heat island”), as well as increased stormwater absorption and filtration of bacteria and pollutants prior to entering our waterways.
Each of us play a role in the health and future of our creeks and rivers. Our actions, both negative and positive, can make an impact that can last generations! Being good stewards of our environment will protect the land we live on, which directly affects the health of our water. Polluted water in the San Antonio River harms more than just the fish and wildlife in our community.
Did you know that the San Antonio River is 240 miles long? Because of this, water from the San Antonio River has direct impact on the health of wildlife in the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Here are some simple steps you can take to help make a difference to our waterways in your community:
What is Impervious Cover and Why is It Harmful to Our Waterways?
Impervious cover does not allow stormwater to absorb into soil. This increases the volume and velocity of stormwater entering waterways, which leads to erosion. Pervious cover on land helps slow down polluted water, spread it out and soak it in. Learn more about impervious vs. previous by watching this video:
Build a Rain Garden
A rain garden can help beautify your yard and help protect the environment. Think of the garden as a shallow bowl, about 6-9 inches deep, that captures rainwater from your roof, sidewalks and driveway. Pollutants that can become hazards to our waterways include bacteria from your roof, pesticides, fertilizers and oils from your driveway. The rain garden allows you to slow down the flow of stormwater entering our waterways, to soak up some pollutants and filter the runoff that would otherwise end up in the nearest storm drain, and ultimately in our creeks and rivers.
Interested in building your own rain garden in your home or office? We have a series of step-by-step videos to walk you through the process.
Pick Up After Your Pet
Why? Animal & pet feces that are not picked up can also end up in storm drains and travel to nearby creeks and rivers. Feces carry bacteria that cause disease.
Improve your Home
Did you know, in San Antonio, stormwater does not drain into a sanitary sewer system. It flows directly into our creeks and rivers. Visit this section of our website to discover simple modifications you can do at home that can help protect the San Antonio River Watershed.
Start a Conversation
Visit the Education section of our website to download education materials you can share with your family and friends to help spread the Watershed Wise message.
The San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) has a passion for sustaining and enriching life in the San Antonio River Watershed. If you share that passion and your heart is in preserving and protecting the San Antonio River Watershed, then the River Authority would like you to become one of the Watershed Wise Warriors.
Watershed Wise Warriors serve as community defenders of the flora and fauna of the waterways giving of their time and energy to advance the sustainability of the watershed. As a Watershed Wise Warrior you will be invited to participate in a variety of activities such as cleanups, ecosystem restoration projects and watershed education opportunities throughout the San Antonio River Watershed. By joining the ranks of the Watershed Wise Warriors, your passion for the environment will be put into action.
Become a Volunteer Gardener
The Watershed Wise Volunteer Gardener initiative is designed to increase the knowledge, enthusiasm, and stewardship of citizens along the San Antonio River Watershed. It builds upon existing knowledge and appreciation for the river as well as sustainable practices to empower a trained number of “Elite” volunteers to conduct independent landscape maintenance on areas along the San Antonio River managed by the San Antonio River Authority. Check this section of our website, or email to learn more about the Watershed Wise Volunteer Gardener program!
Become a Citizen Scientist
The San Antonio River Authority has a citizen science program that is part of a global community. You can become a Watershed Wise Citizen Scientist and start collecting important, research-grade data right now! No experience necessary and a variety of observations are accepted. Simply use your smartphone to download and sign-up on www.iNaturalist.org for free! Once you’re in, be sure to join San Antonio River Projects! To learn more about the Citizen Science program, email here.