Only perpetually booming Phoenix added more people than San Antonio and Fort Worth in the year ending in July 2005, according to the Census Bureau’s annual city population estimates released Tuesday. However, the figures don’t reflect the demographic chaos caused weeks later by the Gulf Coast hurricanes.
San Antonio, which replaced San Diego as the seventh-largest city in the United States, and Fort Worth added about 21,000 people each, based on government estimates using housing statistics. Phoenix tacked nearly 44,500 people onto its tally.
“What is clearly a change is that San Antonio historically had been among the slower-growing of the major cities,” said Steve Murdock, the state demographer based at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “It’s become San Antonio’s turn, so to speak.”
When I was at Trinity in the 80s, San Antonio was the biggest sleepy little town I’ve ever been in. You could drive from the airport, which is just north of US281/Loop 410, the busiest interchange in the city, and see practically no development between there and the TU campus just north of downtown. It’s definitely grown since then, and I’m glad to see it get a little positive attention for it. If I couldn’t live in Houston, San Antonio would be high on my list of second choices.
A future stumbling block for San Antonio could be water. The area depends on the drought-sensitive Edwards Aquifer, and a recent engineering report prepared for the Texas Water Development Board indicates the area could lose 50,000 people by 2030 if water-supply needs go unmet.
“The San Antonio area is going to have to make some hard decisions, here and throughout the aquifer region,” said Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. “If we pave over the recharge zone, we’ll reduce the amount of available water.”
Peace supports stronger limits on how much “impervious cover” – typically concrete slabs or pavement – can be built onto land that acts as a rainwater sponge to replenish the underground lake.
The good news is that the citizens of San Antonio seem to take that responsibility seriously. They’ll need to keep doing that.
The Red State has more.