Water: the common denominator driving fracking opposition


Whether it’s water contamination, water depletion or earthquake inducing water disposal, water concerns are uniting a diverse group of Texans from all across the state to oppose fracking.


Where has all the water gone? The fracking industry claims they only use 1% of the water used in Texas. But that usage is calculated from numbers voluntarily supplied by the industry. Can they be trusted with our water?

When I was in high school, my mother gave me $15 a week, which seemed like a generous allowance for the times. That $15 dollars had to cover my clothes, makeup, lunches, stuff I wanted and entertainment. My single mother would provide food, a roof and a sewing machine. I learned a few days into this experiment that buying my lunch at school like the cool kids did would bankrupt my budget. I started packing my lunch in a brown bag and I learned to sew. These concessions allowed me to stay within my budget and start a savings account.

My story would have a different ending if a big bully had stolen my brown bag lunch everyday or taken my cash. I would have been bankrupt.

Big fracking bullies are wrecking our water budget.

“We have always had plenty of water, we even had an above ground pool. Now we don’t have enough to fill up a kiddie pool.”

Going Dry: FM 1816 homes losing well water daily; energy work blamed (entire article available below)
The Bowie News, Sunday, January 18, 2014
Barbara Green

People all over Texas have to adhere to water rationing restrictions or they get fined. Some people are running flat-out of water. A town in West Texas is out of water and the TCEQ predicts that 30 more Texas towns/communities could run out of water soon. Yet the fracking industry continues to permanently destroy water at a breakneck pace. The big fracking bullies don’t have to play by any rules.

Three reasons they get away with this.

First, the big fracking bullies are in charge of reporting how much water they use. That would be like letting U.S. citizens self-report how much taxes we should pay. Of course, industry is underreporting how much water they use. All water used by industry should be taken from metered sources.

SecondCrony Capitalism gives the big fracking bullies control of the Texas water budget. And these guys make predictions about water usage that aren’t even close enough for government work.

Highlighted on the chart below is Montague County, an agricultural county in the northern part of the Barnett Shale where, like the Eagle Ford, the shale is oily. The TWDB was a little off on their estimates for Montague.

TWDB 2002 predictions

In 2009, 77% of water used in Montague went to oil & gas production. In 2010, 91% of water used went to oil & gas production. (This was before the frack sand mine which is another tremendous water user.) Here’s how that looks in a graph from the Bowie News:



Third, the big fracking bullies give so much money to our lawmakers it creates a conflict of interest so they side with industry every time. During the 83rd legislative session, Rep. Lon Burnam filed HB 379 a bill that would have encouraged recycling of water by assessing a fee on wastewater injection–less water destroyed forever and less earthquake inducing injection. The fee would have gone to the oil and gas regulation and clean up fund. But HB 379 did not pass out of the Energy Resources Committee so it died.

The big fracking bullies can take water from the aquifer, rivers, and lakes.

Way back in 2007, we learned from the Star Telegram about water taken from the Brazos River:

North Texas Living Water Resources, has acquired rights to nearly 9 billion gallons of water per year from the Brazos River and they plan to sell it to drilling companies for use in the Barnett Shale

According to the article (no longer available online), that’s just about enough water to supply the oil and gas drilling companies in Granbury, where North Texas Living Water Resources is based, for one year.

Look at what’s happened to the Brazos River:






apple with orange contentApples are not oranges so stop comparing the water used for fracking to other uses!

Remember, as I told you way, way back in 2007, before fracking was a household word:  The water used for fracking is forever removed from our active hydrologic cycle. Fracking water use cannot be compared to water used for lawns and crop irrigation because that water is not a permanent withdrawal.

The water used for fracking cannot be compared to other uses!

We need another way to calculate the water used by fracking. We need a modeling method that weighs the usage to show, over time, how the permanent fracking withdrawals effect our water budget.

The water used for fracking is not sustainable.

“We just can’t sustain it,” Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County bison rancher who serves on the board of his local groundwater district, said last month as he drove his pickup down a dusty road.


A study commissioned by his groundwater district found that in a five-county area that includes Dimmit, fracking reduces the amount of water in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer by the equivalent of one-third of the aquifer’s recharge. New York Times

(Hugh Fitsimons is running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner.)

The water used to produce shale oil and gas is not sustainable. It’s reckless! For about 1.5 barrels of water you can have 1 barrel of oil.

In 2011, Texas used a greater number of barrels of water for oil and natural gas fracking (about 632 million) than the number of barrels of oil it produced (about 441 million), according to figures from the Texas Water Development Board and the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator. Texas Tribune

The more water the big fracking bullies use, the more earthquake inducing injection is required. It’s a vicious cycle where Texans pay and industry profits. They are using up water that people need so they can produce gas and oil they plan to export to other countries. That’s not a great deal for us.

What do you plan to do about it?

The Bowie News – Going Dry: FM 1816 homes losing well water daily; energy work blamed

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Anymous says

    Here in Texas, we are becoming a Saudi-Texas–where O&G rules, more than ever. Like Saudi, drinking water will be scarce and unavailable when O&G moves in. The peasants will loose their land and have to move on like the migratory tribe in Saudi. Now a days, spend only the minimum on living quarters in Texas–you never know when you will have to abandon your home, and move-on.