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Meet the San Antonio River Authority

Learn what this organization does to protect + clean our San Antonio River and how to become a River Warrior


A Plecostomus species is found in the San Antonio River.

Photo by San Antonio River Authority

You may have heard about the San Antonio River annual river draining last month and the interesting finds discovered at the bottom. But what happens to the fish? We decided to reach out to the experts and find out for you.

Meet the San Antonio River Authority (SARA).

While the City of San Antonio is responsible for the draining, SARA uses this time to perform preventative maintenance + improve the river’s habitat function by planting aquatic plants, relocating native species, and removing non-native invasive species from the river.

What is the process for relocating the native species?

During the dewatering event, SARA’s scientific staff typically rescues those native fish stranded manually and moves them upstream or downstream — think: water + bucket. The stream of water is more than just what you see along with the River Walk and Mission Reach areas — it’s actually 240 miles long.

What’s in the river?

There are several native species in the San Antonio River including:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Native shiner fish
  • Various species of sunfish
  • Channel catfish

However, there’s a handful of non-native species that currently call the river home:

  • Apple Snail — one of the river’s newest threats.
  • Armored catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Redbreast sunfish
  • Plecostomus, suckermouth catfish

Turtley cute river rescue. | Photo by San Antonio River Authority

Photo by San Antonio River Authority

How do these non-native animals affect the river? We’re glad you asked. They can cause bank destabilization and damage the aquatic vegetation due to not having a natural predator. Read more on why you shouldn’t dump your aquarium in the river.

Let’s talk about aquatic plants

Aside from the relocation and removal process, the team at SARA’s Watershed & Park Operations Department plants pickerelweed, Louisiana iris, broadleaf arrowhead, and yellow water lily to help the river and its species thrive.

SARA volunteer opportunities

You can Be River Proud and take the pledge “Don’t Let Litter Trash Your River” or by becoming a River Warrior Volunteer. River Warrior initiatives involve trash pickups, apple snail monitoring, water quality testing across the watershed, and citizen science.

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