Abengoa-led group takes on $3.4bn water project

San Antonio’s city council has approved a 30-year contract with a consortium led by Abengoa for an ‘unprecedented’ water supply project .

The San Antonio City Council has unanimously approved a 30-year contract with Vista Ridge Consortium, a group led by Spanish renewable energy and engineering firm Abengoa, for the design, building, financing, maintenance and operation of a water system that will increase the water supply to the city of San Antonio in Texas by 20 percent, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) said in a statement.

The project, which Abengoa in a separate statement described as “unprecedented,” includes new production wells, pumping stations, raw water collection, storage tanks and a 142-mile pipeline that will deliver 16.3 billion gallons of water annually. The estimated cost of the project, which has been under consideration for over three years, is $3.4 billion according to media reports.

“With this agreement we are moving from a city perceived to lack water supplies to a city that will ensure economic prosperity for our children and grandchildren,” SAWS chairman Berto Guerra said. “And we will be able to do this while fulfilling our commitment to protect the Edwards Aquifer, even in times of drought.”

According to SAWS, San Antonio’s access to the Edwards Aquifer decreases by up to 44 percent during severe phases of drought. The Vista Ridge project will deliver water from the Carrizo and Simsboro Aquifers in Burleson and Milam counties rather than the Edwards Aquifer, making the new water system “drought-proof”.

Council approval was the last step of the procurement process with no further approvals required.

The consortium, which also includes BlueWater Systems, has up to 30 months to arrange financing and another 42 months to construct the project so that it is online by 2020.

Founded in Seville in 1941, Abengoa’s business activities include generating electricity from renewable sources, converting biomass into biofuels and producing drinking water from sea water.