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Texas fracking critics tour the Eagle Ford as complaints of contamination surface

Photo: Micahel Barajas, License: N/A

Micahel Barajas

Toby Frederick, who lives outside Cuero, stands next a well on his property pumping water that reeks of diesel fuel.

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

A natural gas compressor station outside Cuero, one piece of the Eagle Ford buzzing with oil and gas exploration.

Krueger said he notified Pecan Valley Groundwater Conservation District, suspecting increased water draws for nearby fracking may have caused a severe cone of depression that reversed water flow.

Pecan Valley last month commissioned a study hoping to determine how the rapid increase in groundwater pumping has impacted the local water table, said Charlotte Krause, the district’s general manager. In the past, the district would receive about two reports a year of wells running dry. “We’ve had 15 just within the last month,” Krause said.

The typical DeWitt County rancher may pull about 20 gallons a minute from the Gulf Coast aquifer, Krause said, adding, “Now you’ve got companies pulling up to 400 gallons a minute.” Krause has also been trying to gather concrete water-use figures from local companies, though not all have been forthcoming, she said.

A study set to be released later this summer by the Texas Water Development Board and the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology estimates that Texas water used in fracking was negligible in 2010, but that the demand for water to frack the Eagle Ford will likely spike ten-fold to over 6.5 billion gallons per year by 2020. Demand will then double again by 2030, the study estimates.

David Marquez, executive director of Bexar County’s economic development department, said, “The challenges here are obvious. You just have to drive through this part of the country and see there aren’t broad rivers or springs.” Industry groups, he said, have already begun to realize the same process used in other shale formations “can’t just be flopped down into the Eagle Ford,” and water-recycling programs will likely be required to keep the water flowing. •

See also:

Sinking feelings
Gas fracking may already be lowering water tables in South Texas

Warming trend
Regulators far from ready for challenges fracking brings to South Texas

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