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Grassroots San Antonio Community Protects Water Aquifer From Big Business Golf Development Project

July 08, 2004

We take a look at how community leaders in San Antonio, Texas launched a massive grassroots campaign against local politicians and the business elite to defeat a luxury golf course and housing development project over one the country’s largest and most pristine sources of water. And we take a look at a new documentary that examines the privatization of water around the world.

Local developers in San Antonio, Texas recently set their sights on building a luxury golf course and housing development in partnership with the Professional Golfers Association.

The 2,600-acre project, known as the PGA Village, would have been set over the Edwards Aquifer, one of the country’s largest and most pristine sources of water. At 180 miles long, it is the water source for 1.7 million people.

The proposed project sent the local community in an uproar leading to a struggle that pitted grassroots community leaders against local politicians and the business elite.

Concerned community leaders launched a massive campaign to push for a referendum on the project that garnered over 100,000 signatures, unseated a developer-friendly city council and overcame heavy resistance from the town mayor. The campaign was a success and the PGA eventually pulled out of the deal, preserving the aquifer.

And we take a look at another story about water and community resistance. A new documentary entitled "Thirst" premiering next week examines the privatization of water in communities in the U.S., Bolivia and India.

The Water Partnership Council is trying to block viewing of the film. At this year’s US Conference of Mayors Summer Meeting, the council advised that the film "lacks a factual basis and is politically motivated"

  • Maria Antonietta Berriozabal, one of the main organizers opposing the PGA Village project. She was City Councilwoman in San Antonio from 1981 to 1991. In 1991, she ran for mayor losing the race with 47% of the vote.
  • Alan Snitow, co-producer and director of the new documentary "Thirst" with Deborah Kaufman. Their past films include "Blacks and Jews" and "Secrets of Silicon Valley." Thirst airs on POV on PBS on July 13.

More on Water Privatization:
See "Reclaiming Water," a documentary produced by Democracy Now! technical director Angela Alston.

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