October 30, 2015


Washington, D.C. - Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) today announced an $874,826.44 reimbursement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) for the Mission Reach project. SARA will return the funds to Bexar County, which was the primary funding source for the project. This is the first tranche of a total $61.3 million USACE reimbursement Bexar County is entitled to receive for funding the Mission Reach project.  
"After years of pushing for this reimbursement, I'm thrilled that Bexar County has received the first portion of what it's owed by the Army Corps of Engineers,"? said Rep. Castro. "The River Authority's work on the Mission Reach has resulted in sounder water infrastructure, greater ecological sensitivity, and improved economic outcomes for the local community. These improvements came with a hefty price tag. For Bexar County and SARA to undertake future projects that stand to benefit San Antonio's residents and economy, the Corps must provide its full reimbursement. I'm going to continue working with the USACE and other federal officials to ensure the County receives the entirety of what it was promised."

Illustrating how these reimbursed funds will be used to undertake future projects, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff commented, "Thank you to Congressman Castro for working with us, SARA, and the entire Federal delegation to secure the first reimbursement from the Army Corp of Engineers. We will reinvest these funds in our local rivers and creeks to continue the enhancement of our local waterways."

In 2009, Federal authorization was granted allowing SARA to become the project manager and advance federal work on the Mission Reach project utilizing local funds provided by Bexar County with the understanding that Bexar County would be eligible for reimbursement for the federal share of the authorized and constructed civil works project. The Corps declared in 2012 that the Mission Reach was eligible for reimbursement based on the non-federal sponsor (SARA) advancing construction and completing the project using local funds. Bexar County advanced over $61 million toward the federal share of the project. The intention and effect of this approach was to provide a more businesslike approach to the Corps' program by having sponsors advance the project efficiently and cost-effectively using local funds. In the case of the Mission Reach, this proved successful as the sponsor reduced the Corps' estimate of the work by $25 million through effective cost management.
"Under SARA's project management using Bexar County funds, the Mission Reach project was completed on time and under budget,"? said Suzanne Scott, SARA's General Manager. "The wonderful Mission Reach project would not have been built without the funds provided by Bexar County. Since completion of the project, it has been our priority to secure all the reimbursement funds due to Bexar County, and we greatly appreciate the support provided by Congressman Castro and our entire Federal delegation to hold the Corps to their agreement with SARA and Bexar County."?
For the past two years, Rep. Castro has worked extensively to prompt reimbursement from USACE to SARA and Bexar County for the Mission Reach project. He led a San Antonio delegation letter to former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Sylvia Burwell; led a letter to current OMB Director Shaun Donovan and held a follow-up phone call with the director; met with Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett; and has held multiple meetings with the Army Corps of Engineers on the issue. Rep. Castro also introduced an amendment in the House of Representatives that would expedite USACE's release of promised reimbursements to state, local, regional and municipal entities like SARA. 

The Mission Reach project successfully restored the ecosystem of an eight-mile stretch of the San Antonio River south of downtown previously channelized for flood control purposes. Construction of the project was completed in October 2013. The restored ecosystem consists of 113 acres of aquatic habitat, 334 acres of riparian woodland, 31 riffle structures, 13 acres of embayment habitat, and two river remnants. The project is also maintaining and increasing the flood control capabilities of the original (USACE) project. Additionally, the 2014 River Walk Impact Study found that the project is acting as an economic catalyst as a part of the River Walk, contributing to an estimated $3.1 billion in economic impact for the area which is generated annually by the San Antonio River Walk. 
"The river is the jewel of our city,"? added Rep. Castro. "Bexar County and SARA's efforts ensure that the history, recreation, and business along the river's banks will continue to thrive for generations to come. It's an honor to support this work and help secure the funding the County and Authority need to move forward on their future projects."