In the Southwest we’re dealing with drought intensified by climate change. And with more people moving here, there’s an increased demand on what little water we have. On top of that, many communities in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah are also dealing with a relatively new industry that threatens to drain water supplies even further.
The oil and gas industry call the process “hydraulic fracturing” or fracking for short. It is a high-pressure injection of water and chemicals used to break up rock and release the gas inside them.
As this Climate Desk story points out, many small Texas communities have found their wells running dry.
“Getting one oil well fracked takes more water than the entire town can drink or use in a day," complained one Barnhart resident.
The story goes on to explain that some 30 communities in Texas could run out of water by the end of the year, according ot the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Indeed it takes up to 7 million gallons of water to frack one well. And 30 percent of that water is gone forever. Of course, the water shortage is not a result of just fracking: many people in these West Texas towns are ranchers, and livestock use a lot of water as well.
In May, Mora County in New Mexico became the first county in the United States to ban fracking over concerns about water shortages and drinking water contamination.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has linked contaminated ground water to fracking.