Reps. Hurd and Cuellar Announce $1.5 Million for Mitchell Lake at Press Conference

October 26, 2018
Press Release
Funding to be used to initiate study of lake restoration

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Today, Congressmen Will Hurd (TX-23) Henry Cuellar (TX-28) attended an event at Mitchell Lake, where they were recognized by the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for their efforts in helping secure $1.5 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) FY18 Work Plan to initiate a study on the restoration of the lake. This funding will be used to initiate the restoration of the lake’s ecosystem and surrounding habitat, eventually providing San Antonio residents with health, recreational, and economic benefits.

Congressmen Hurd and Cuellar, along with the help of Congressman Castro, Energy & Water Appropriations Chairman Mike Simpson (ID-02), and Ranking Member Kaptur (OH-09), worked to secure funding and language for the study in the Appropriations Committee over the last few years. In FY17 and FY18, they helped secure $8 million for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, which funds the restoration of Mitchell Lake and similar projects. In FY19, they helped secure $12 million, a $4 million increase from previous years. The study’s full cost is $3 million; half is federally funded, and the other half will come from a non-federal sponsor such as SAWS.

Records of the lake exist dating back to the 1600s, telling us about the original state of the lake and area. Mitchell Lake was one of San Antonio’s first centralized wastewater treatment plants, historically used as a receiving water body for storing raw or partially treated sewage. The treatment plant is a legacy site that was transferred to SAWS when the current entity was created in 1991. The lake attracts thousands of visitors each year, such as students, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts. It receives more than 9,000 visitors and over 100 birdwatching tours every year. 

“I would like to thank Congressmen Hurd and Castro, Chairman Mike Simpson, and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur for their leadership on this issue,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This is an important first step in studying the area to ensure that water quality in the lake during rain events does not impact the ability of SAWS to maintain it as the environmental and economic resource that it is today. I look forward to seeing the progress of this restoration project and the benefits it will have for the greater Bexar community.”

Congressman Cuellar added, “I would also like to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for prioritizing this project, and the San Antonio Water System for taking a lead on this issue.”

Congressman Hurd said, “The hundreds of bird and plant species thriving on site at Mitchell Lake’s Audubon Center have proven to provide impressive economic, environmental and health benefits to the surrounding community. I am proud to have worked with SAWS, USACE and the Audubon Texas Conservation leadership to secure funding for Mitchell Lake’s continued improvements so that students and bird enthusiasts can enjoy this unique migratory bird sanctuary for years to come. It truly is a treasure in my district that all San Antonians should enjoy.”

“We would like to thank Congressman Henry Cuellar for his continued leadership in securing funding for Mitchell Lake. He has continually stepped up for our community, finding solutions to difficult issues in San Antonio,” said Robert R. Puente, SAWS President/CEO. “This funding will be crucial in restoring the surrounding area and transforming our local aquatic ecosystems.”

Mitchell Lake is positioned on a natural migratory bird route and serves as a resting point for tens of thousands of birds each year. Bird watchers come from all over the world to see the unique variety of birds that visit there. This project is designed to improve the surrounding habitat around the lake, creating a more economically friendly environment for a variety of animal species. This restoration project will also increase visitors to the lake, by creating trails with hiking and biking paths for people in Bexar County.

To read more about Mitchell Lake, please click here.

To read the language from FY17, FY18 and FY19 click here.