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San Antonio River Authority begins study of Medina River Watershed

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The San Antonio River Authority has begun a 3-year, 3-phase study of the Medina River Watershed. The study, under the direction of consultanting firm Malcolm Pirnie, is titled Medina River Holistic Watershed Master Plan, or MEHO.

Malcolm Pirnie is a national environmental consulting firm with offices in San Antonio. It is the Water Division of ARCADIS, an international consultancy, design, engineering and management company.

Phase I of the study, which began in July 2011 includes the condition assessment and conceptual level solutions of the watershed, with emphasis on Bexar County and the downstream segments. Phase 2 will include water quality modeling and integration of solutions with stakeholders. Phase 3 includes the implementation plan.

Bob Perez, SARA, project manager, gave an overview of the project to the board of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) at their quarterly meeting held Jan. 5.

Perez said SARA hoped to be able to access data regarding the watershed from the BCRAGD.

He said the plan will project out to 2020 and 2040 to estimate the effects of growth and development in the Medina River watershed.

"We hope the plan will help communities [in the watershed] to regulate and control growth and identify water quality issues," he said.

MEHO should provide a long-term growth study and planning document for communities along the river.

Perez said SARA would appreciate the help of BCRAGD by collecting data and organizing stakeholder meetings as the plan develops.

The preliminary study along Leon Creek has already been completed.

Still to be completed are the following basins: Cibolo Creek, Medina River, Medio Creek, Salado Creek, San Antonio River and Upper San Antonio River.

SARA defines an holistic approach to watershed planning as planning that begins with data collection, follows with assessment and targeting, which leads to development of strategy and concludes with planning.

The goals of MEHO include the development of a strategic land conservation plan, a look at land use changes and identifying flood damage centers.