Press Release

Reps. Cuellar, Castro, and Doggett Secure Amendment to Improve Utility Service Infrastructure for San Antonio and Military Community

Secured language for drilling sample at JBSA-Lackland AFB

Washington, May 24, 2018 | Rep. Cuellar: Olya Voytovich; Rep. Castro: Jamie Geller; Rep. Doggett: Kate Stotesbery (Olya Voytovich 202-226-1583; Jamie Geller 202-225-3236; Kate Stotesbery 202-225-4865)

WASHINGTON— Reps. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Joaquín Castro (TX-20), and Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) secured an amendment to H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 to improve utility service infrastructure for Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) and the City of San Antonio.

Congressman Cuellar said:

“San Antonio is experiencing rapid population growth in Bexar County and it is one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S. The increasing need for wastewater services is an essential part of that growth. However, the existing wastewater pipeline, serving over 500,000 people in Southwest San Antonio and JBSA-Lackland AFB, is in poor condition and must be replaced. 

The segment that runs through the base has experienced numerous sewer overflows, some of the most in the county.  Due to these and other sewer discharges in the system, the City of San Antonio was mandated by the EPA to inspect, rehabilitate and replace parts of the sewer pipeline running through JBSA.

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and JBSA have participated in lengthy negotiations, seeking a solution to replace the aging wastewater pipe.  We have tried for a long time to resolve this amicably— In April, Congressman Joaquin Castro and I held a meeting with Executives from the Air Force, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Councilmember Clayton Perry, and SAWS CEO Robert Puente. Additionally, I spoke over the phone with the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Goldfein, in efforts to find out how we could move this vital project forward. Unfortunately, we were not able to come to a definitive agreement.

That is why Reps. Castro, Doggett, and I introduced this amendment which brings together JBSA and the City of San Antonio to forge a path forward to replace the pipeline. Specifically, this provision compels the Air Force to conduct a core sampling study at Lackland Air Force Base which is the most effective way to see what potential contaminants are present and will allow this necessary project to get underway. Having the Air Force conduct these soil samples, and allowing this construction project to proceed as planned, the City of San Antonio and customers of the city’s utilities will save over $100 million by avoiding extensive route adjustments. 

I would like to thank my fellow colleagues from Texas for helping me include our amendment in the final passage of the bill. I would also like to thank Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) for helping us bring this language to the forefront and seek an environmentally responsible solution to this issue. Replacing this pipeline is critical to improving the health, safety, growth, and wellbeing for the City of San Antonio.”

Congressman Castro said, “Moving forward with soil samples for this pipeline project is critical for the environment, public health, and San Antonio Water System (SAWS) ratepayers. Failure to do so would result in continued sewer spills, uncertainty for the surrounding community concerning soil contamination, and rate increases for SAWS customers. This amendment allows the Air Force and SAWS to find a path forward for this project while simultaneously helping our community to continue to grow responsibly.”

Congressman Doggett said, “Today is a good step forward to ensuring we can safely meet the needs of our growing population. Long ago, I learned the wisdom of the old adage ‘measure twice and cut once.’ This amendment ensures we will soon be armed with all the facts so we don’t take a problem and make it worse. As our Military City, U.S.A. continues to grow, I salute the partnership between SAWS, the City of San Antonio, and JBSA, that addresses the need to sustain our community for future generations of San Antonians.”

“Congressman Cuellar continues to step up for our community to find ways to solve difficult issues for San Antonio,” said Robert R. Puente, SAWS President/CEO. “SAWS commitment to Military City USA, and to our customers will be strengthened through Rep. Cuellar’s leadership.”

Watch video of Congressman Cuellar speaking on the House Floor here.

See bill language here.

See report language here.