|Carrizo -Wilcox Acquifer|
From The Denton Record-Chronicle
By Peggy Heinkel Wolfe
In the Eagle Ford Shale region, Mike Mahoney, director of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District, said energy operators — like others living, working and ranching in that region — have little access to surface water.
About 95 percent of the people in the Evergreen district, which covers about 2.4 million acres in four counties, depend on fresh water from two aquifers, the Carrizo and the Karnes, said Mike Mahoney, director of the Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District. Because most Texas aquifers are slow to replenish once drawn down, water suppliers sometimes liken surface water to a checking account and groundwater to a savings account.
The Carrizo is deep and has few users, Mahoney said. The Karnes is shallow, he said, with some operators drilling water wells at the same level that would compete with domestic and agricultural users. With more than 130 new natural gas wells in the Eagle Ford Shale, Mahoney estimates that more than 2,000 acre-feet of groundwater have been pumped from aquifers to drill and frack the wells.“That’s far more than what the current ‘exempt use’ is,” he said.
In other words, the amount of groundwater used to drill and frack gas wells has outpaced what individual home and ranch owners in that region draw for drinking water and personal use, such as watering their gardens, fruit trees or family livestock.
Oil and gas operators are not required to report their water consumption, so while the agency has looked at the issue, no one really knows — whether in the Barnett Shale, the Eagle Ford Shale or anywhere else in the state — how much water the industry is drawing from aquifers and lakes.