June 27, 2011
Plastic-lined pits holding millions of gallons of blue-green water are tucked away in fields chock-full of withering mesquite trees.
Ken Rainwater, a hydrology professor at Texas Tech University, said water use for oil and gas exploration pales in comparison to municipal and agricultural use.
But although the overall use is "minuscule" and doesn't have an effect on an aquifer's overall level, Rainwater said it can have a noticeable and serious effect on levels in certain areas.
"Water use for irrigation is a lot bigger than anything else we do," Rainwater said. "But still, locally, if you're the guy next to where they're pumping water for this process, you're concerned."
Nicot agrees. "From a regional standpoint, it's not a problem," he said. "All these large water bodies, all the large aquifers can take it, but locally you may run into issues because there are too many users."