|From Carrizo Springs, Texas|
Under Texas law, an oil company that has the mineral lease on a property has the right to tap aquifers without the consent of landowners.Editor's Note: The City of Laredo, a couple of months ago, ended stage 3 water restriction. The prevailing notion is that they did this because it was the only way to justify their selling water to the fracking industry. So while Fort Worth ends its water sales to the oil and gas companies, Laredo is barely starting theirs. No common sense needed when you're willing to sell-off your town and its resources to the highest bidder.
Dan Waldrop owns 1,200 acres in LaSalle County, about halfway between San Antonio and Laredo, but he doesn't own the mineral rights. The energy company that does has drawn nearly 30 million gallons of water so far from a well it drilled on his property.
He says he is considering trying to make the company pay for it. "In the deed, it says they have the use of the water, and it doesn't say they have free use," he says.
In addition to tapping underground aquifers, oil companies are interested in water from Texas rivers. They have acquired—or are currently seeking to acquire—from local irrigation authorities the rights to nearly 40,000 acre-feet of water a year. That is enough to supply nearly a quarter-million people for a year.
One source has been the Rio Grande. Cities along the river, which are among the fastest growing in the state, draw from it to supply water to residents.
"This is a major concern for us," says Juan Hinojosa, a Democratic state senator from McAllen who represents the area. "The oil companies have a lot more money than we do to buy water rights."
The intense drought over the summer exacerbated the water concerns of cities. More than 964 public water systems, covering 14.7 million Texans, have imposed voluntary or mandatory restrictions, according to the state.
This summer, the city of Grand Prairie, near Fort Worth, stopped selling water to oil companies as part of its drought-contingency measures, which also included lawn-watering restrictions.