The Texas Organizing Project (TOP) today announced its support of the SAWS Accountability Act and putting the ballot initiative before voters in 2021. The SAWS Accountability Act was drafted over the course of the last two years by a broad coalition of San Antonio groups.
“The nearly $3 billion Vista Ridge pipeline project has led to a sharp increase in water rates for many in my community,” said Alice Canestaro-Garcia, TOP climate justice campaign member. “Additionally, the pipeline has led to cost overruns involving at least $80 million, and the creation of a public-private partnership contract that has been amended seven times without San Antonio City Council oversight or approval. The need for transparency and accountability has never been more clear.”
In addition to matters involving the Vista Ridge pipeline, the SAWS Accountability Act addresses what local activists see as an excessive general manager salary (the current salary for the position is three times that of any public water CEO in Texas), as well as ethical concerns, lobbying without Council approval, and requiring performance audits before contracts are signed, as a standard practice for projects over one billion dollars.
“It’s shameful how the City of San Antonio has failed in its responsibility to provide adequate oversight of its public water utility system,” said Celia Valles, a TOP climate justice organizer. “Our city’s residents deserve not only relief on their water bill, but peace of mind knowing that their own taxpayer-funded water utility is not trying to conduct business in insidious ways that are counter to the public’s best interest.”
TOP’s endorsement of the effort to put the SAWS Accountability Act on the ballot for voter approval in May 2021 will require the gathering of 20,000 valid petition signatures between now and the filing deadline in January.
Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.
This press release was sent out August 17, 2020.