Among the more obscure additions to San Antonio’s 2023 fiscal year budget: The city plans to acquire an emergency supply bunker to store water bottles, food and other equipment for first responders.
The move comes at the recommendation of a committee formed to assess the city’s emergency preparedness after Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, according to City Manager Erik Walsh. During that storm, wide swaths of northern San Antonio lost water service after power was cut to key pumping sites and the city and county worked to distribute bottled water.
“When we needed to buy bottled water after [Uri] … we were on the phone with Arkansas trying to get 18 wheelers down here. We had no stock on hand,” Walsh told reporters in a budget presentation last month.
“Twice in the last two and a half years we’ve had to scramble because we didn’t have the inventory of water on hand, or emergency supplies or meals ready to eat,” said Walsh.
The supply warehouse was included in a $3.4 billion budget City Council approved Thursday.
Elsewhere in the budget, the city plans to fund four emergency shelters throughout the city where residents can come to escape extreme weather. They’ll also be used to distribute basic supplies during disasters.
Walsh said the city was still determining where the emergency supply storage would be located and whether officials would construct something new or purchase and renovate an existing space.
The effort will be funded with $9 million of the city’s roughly $80 million surplus from CPS Energy revenue. That amount does not include the cost of supplies to stock the warehouse.
Of that money, $10 million will go toward a program Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) pitched to fund climate mitigation initiatives. Another $6 million will be used for sidewalk construction.