San Antonio’s Westside Creeks: Reaching for Ecosystem Sustainability

Fort Worth District, USACE
Published Feb. 20, 2024
public information session

Shaun Donovan, Manager of Environmental Services, San Antonio River Authority, describes project elements of the Westside Creeks Project during a public information session in September 2023.

public information session

Fort Worth District's Danny Allen, Wildlife Biologist with National Environmental Policy Act and Cultural Resources Section, answers questions about the Westside Creeks Ecosystem Restoration Project during a public information session in September, 2023.

Westside Creeks

Area of Westside Creeks looking towards downtown San Antonio during a site visit in March, 2023.

Mention Westside Creeks to most people in Texas and you will get that bewildered “what did you say?” sideways glance, wanting more information to know what is being referenced. But speak the same to those who live in the nation’s seventh most populated city of San Antonio, and hopefully, you’ll receive a much more positive and enthusiastic response.

The Westside Creeks of San Antonio - San Pedro, Apache, Alazán and Martinez - are part of the larger flood risk management system of the San Antonio River for the City of San Antonio.

Now known simply as Westside Creeks, these four creeks were channelized by local entities, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the 1950s and 1960s to help convey flood waters into the main stem of the San Antonio River. The trapezoidal-shaped creeks and in some areas, concrete-lined creek beds, worked well to help with flood damage reduction but was not as friendly to the ecosystem that today’s technology can obtain.

“The Westside Creeks ecosystem restoration project aims to restore the riverine ecosystem within portions of the Westside Creeks to a more natural condition,” according to Zia Burns, the program manager at USACE’s Fort Worth District. “The Westside Creeks project is an extension of the preexisting San Antonio Channel Improvement Project which construction began in the 1950s to address the flooding issues within the San Antonio River and Guadalupe River basins.”

The project also provides recreation opportunities that are compatible with the ecosystem restoration objectives and public use vision showcased in the Mission Reach project completed in 2013.

The scope of the project includes restoration for 222 acres and 11 stream miles of aquatic habitat by constructing a pilot channel, establishing riparian woody vegetation and meadows. In addition, there will be approximately eight miles of multi-use trails and recreational features such as shade structures, benches, water fountains, picnic tables with pads, trash receptacles, and signage.

The project is a partnership between USACE’s Fort Worth District and the San Antonio River Authority, along with collaboration from local, state, federal agencies, and tribes. Bexar County is the local funding partner which bears 35 percent of the funding requirements while USACE is contributing 65 percent.

“The Westside Creeks Project began in 2008 with formation of the Westside Creeks Restoration Oversight Committee, and in 2012 the community participated in the feasibility study to advocate for an improved ecosystem,” said San Antonio River Authority’s Senior Project Manager Rebecca Krug.

The River Authority worked with USACE in 2014 when Alternative 6 combined National Ecosystem Restoration/National Economic Development plan was selected and funding for the project was announced by USACE in 2022.

“As recently as July 2023 we met and talked about the recreation features along with what else we have the opportunity to add to enhance quality of life and wildlife habitat within the project,” Krug said.

“With all the project elements included, along with the Mission Reach since it is adjacent, the Westside Creeks Project will make the largest urban ecosystem restoration project in the country. We hope to build upon demonstrated success from the other reaches habitat values with the design of the Westside Creeks project.”

Current progress through the pre-construction engineering and design phase includes a public information sessions for recreation features in July last year and in September at the 30 percent milestone, or initial design, on how the project may look when constructed.

Additional public information sessions are scheduled for summer 2024 at the 60 percent interim design milestone, and at the 90 percent final design in early 2025.

Design funds for the Westside Creeks Project were included in the Fiscal Year 2022 President’s Budget, and the construction phase is included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2022. This approximately $200 million, multi-year project is expected to be completed by end of 2029.

Comments about the project are also encouraged online at (Email: or USACE email at

Additional project information is available at or

Editor’s Note: The San Antonio River was recognized in 2017 by the International River Foundation with the Theiss International Riverprize, the world’s foremost award in river basin management. This major international recognition was awarded to the San Antonio River largely for the economic success of the downtown and Museum Reach sections of the San Antonio River Walk as well as the significance of the urban ecosystem restoration along the Mission Reach section of the River Walk. The San Antonio River Authority accepted the award on behalf of the community.