Droughts have become an increasingly larger problem throughout the Southwest, than years before. Up until now, the blame was placed on global warming, increased consumption and decreased availability. Culpability is now being shifted to fracking.
While the reasons for fracking make perfect sense and will help the US out of their dependency on foreign oil sources, the process itself is extremely water-intensive. The high consumption rate has spelled trouble for towns throughout the Southwest.
A story out of Barnhart, Texas sums up the devastating effects of fracking. Two years ago the town of Barnhart, Texas became the residence of large fracking companies, who began tapping into the city’s natural gas reserves. Shortly after they appeared, water began to vanish.
Residents in the town began noticing their own personal wells drying up after the frackers’ appearance, but they made no mind of it. Resident Beverly McGuire made note of her own well running dry, but simply ignored it and hooked up to the town’s central supply.
As opposed to complaining about their quickly decreasing water supply, the citizens of Barnhart simply adjusted their own lifestyles. Statewide water rationing became a norm for these people, forcing them to cut down on their daily consumption. This rationing not only killed trees and lawns, but it also has had devastating effects on the economic situation of Barnhart’s citizens. Ranchers who used to run 500 cattle and 8,000 goats had to dump most of their herds. No longer able to feed and water their herds, ranchers were forced to reduce their numbers. And while local businessmen and farmers were forced to downsize, the fracking and oil companies are taking as much water as their hearts desire.
At its worst, the citizens of Barnhart were forced to live without a single drop of water for five days. Fortunately, a local work crew was able to revive a local railway well and begin pumping water back in. Though functional for now, this solution is only temporary, and soon enough the town will be forced into another dry spell.
Barnhart is not the only town running dry. Communities all around the Southwest are preparing for the worst – and the worst is yet to come. Extreme measures are being taken to find water to sustain populations. San Angelo, Texas with a population of 100,000 had to dig an underground pipeline to retrieve water from a well more than 60 miles away.
Alone, droughts can be devastating. When paired with the process of fracking, it is merely impossible to predict what will happen next.