Between 2010 and 2015, the expansion and widening of IH-10 from 1604 to Huebner Road and, simultaneously, of DeZavala Road between them on San Antonio’s northwest side was completed. These were massive projects that changed the landscape considerably.
Civic engineers designed a system of concrete reservoirs and ducts that use gravity to guide rainfall in parking lots, along highways and streets, ultimately channeling it into a drainage ditch in the 100-year floodplain in the area around the cul-de-sac at Rocky Point road. These are the last undeveloped properties of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone there.
We define the Rocky Point Recharge Zone as 34.4 acres of piecemeal lots situated in and around the floodplain and share data from an ongoing study of the ecosystem that has developed as a result of the channeled water.
The study reveals the ecosystem grew rapidly and significantly in the very wet years of 2015 and 2016. An intermittent stream flourishing with life has emerged. There are now many more species of birds and animals in the area. It is a refuge for urban wildlife.
Though the water ducting system was exceptionally effective at preventing flash flooding and flooded parking lots during the wet years of 2015 and ‘16, in fact water that should be reaching the recharge zone is evaporating on large expanses of concrete and all the local garbage is being pushed into the RPRZ. Considerably more refuse and less clean rain water is being returned to the Edwards Aquifer.
A Brief History of the last 50 years in the RPRZ and Surrounding Areas
The area we call the Rocky Point Recharge Zone was indiscernible from the ranchland around it until the mid-1970’s when development of the northwest side of San Antonio began around the newly planned University of Texas at San Antonio. Most of the area was fenced-in Texas hill country.
In 1974, there were no strip malls or banks or schools at Dezavala and I-10. The nearest stores were at Wurzbach Road or in Helotes off 1604 or at Northwest Military Highway/Locke-Hill Selma in Castle Hills. DeZavala was a dark, two lane country road filled with wildlife. Armadillos, deer, large snakes, roadrunners, horned toads and wild pigs were common. There were birds of many different species and free standing ponds and streams that supported fish, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles. There were many caves and caverns that supported life.
Between 1975 and 1985, UTSA’s first buildings were built. Locke Hill Elementary, Clark High and numerous new subdivisions for their future students were built along Dezavala. The University Bowl with its massive parking lot, the Acura dealership and Star furniture were built. Stores and malls were added at Huebner Road including The Strand – the La Cantera of its time.
From 1985 to 1995, Huebner Oaks arrived. Many more neighborhoods were built between Huebner and DeZavala and all along DeZavala on both sides of I-10. Apartment complexes sprang up. The massive Fiesta complex was built at the corner of DeZavala and I-10, bringing H.E.B. and McDonald’s with it and a movie theater. Huge asphalt parking lots began for the first time to cover hundreds of acres of recharge zone.
From 1995 to 2005, numerous strip malls and freestanding restaurants were built on both sides of the highway and along DeZavala. WalMart, Target and large furniture stores arrived. This is when most of the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone was covered in asphalt and thus the Rocky Point Recharge Zone emerged as the last undeveloped region of recharge.
Between 2005 and 2012, development exploded up and down both sides of the highway from DeZavala to UTSA Blvd and beyond. La Cantera, The Rim and new hotels in the area surrounding Fiesta Texas expanded. The gaps were filled between Wurzbach and Dezavala and development northwest to 1604 and beyond continues actively to this day. The Highway and DeZavala were overdue to be widened and expanded when that project finally began in 2012.
By 2015, when the five year project to widen DeZavala and I-10 was completed, there was very little recharge zone left. What remains is scattered in piecemeal lots across the northwest side. There are no more roadrunners, armadillos, wild pigs or horned toads and exponentially less deer.