The Only Constant in Life is Change!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 8, 2004

Yes, the one thing you and I can be assured of in this life is change!  And so it was that last Monday night I sat with a gathering of my very fine constituents gathered at St. Anthony Hall in Elmendorf to inquire into the placement of a sewage treatment plant just off Highway 181 South.  While driving to the meeting down Highway 181 South, I could not help but notice the increased traffic on 181 and the tempo of the area in general. 

There are now of course, like other eastward arteries in my Precinct, more red lights.  And where there are red lights, there are subdivisions and growth!  All of this leads me to the problem at hand. 

A developer named Saul Siegel intends to build a subdivision of homes in the area close to Highway 181.  Still another subdivision within the Elmendorf City limits is being proposed.  These subdivisions naturally have a need for a sewage treatment plant.  This brings us to a very tired old fight, one nearly as old as the landfill fights we have experienced over the last thirty years: the sewage treatment plant fight!

Some of us remember the horrible old San Antonio Rilling Road Sewage Treatment Plant near Stinson Field and Harlandale Memorial Stadium.  This was remedied by Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox suing the City of San Antonio and obtaining a quarter of a million dollar judgment to be applied to the fix.  Dos Rios Sewage Treatment Plant, a model plant, followed. 

Others recall the fight against the Salado Sewage Treatment Plant just off Southton Road.  Cicoda flies had plagued the area as the plant "spray-irrigated" the immediate area with half-treated sewage.  The surrounding neighbors suffered.  After some trauma and much protest, the City of San Antonio ended up remedying the problem by ending "spray-irrigation".  

Today, we are fortunate to have a much better technology and methodology for treating sewage.  There are some sewage treatment plants operating nearly unnoticed due to their vast improvements over the years.  Still, the siting and perhaps the change that such a plant's siting foretells, is a change that the community would like to forego.  The proposed operator of this particular plant off 181 South by the way, is the San Antonio River Authority (SARA). 

The proposed location to which residents object, is an easement owned by City Public Service (CPS) near Calaveras Lake.  The application for the plant must be first made by SARA to the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  SARA agreed to withhold for the time-being, the application to TCEQ to see if a committee of residents and staffers can locate an acceptable site for the plant. 

There will be a well-publicized public meeting required by TCEQ however, before any permit can be issued by the State of Texas!

I was proud for the most part, of the high-mindedness of the citizens, City of Elmendorf officials and staff of CPS and SARA.  I know change isn't easy.  I also know that the role of a County Commissioner in this matter is quite limited by law.  Still, I cannot ignore the legitimate needs of my constituents to be a part of the decision-making process as regards inevitable change in the form of growth. I do not know what the solution is or will be.  I only know that when all is said and done, residents, the agencies and the developer will craft a way to communicate and agree to disagree without hopefully being disagreeable.  Wherever I do not have legal authority to decide questions like this, I hope to be found fighting for our citizens to harmonize big government, developers and the founding fathers and mothers of the various communities in Precinct Four.  Stay tuned for more.

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