New investigation: fracking is increasing competition for water and its price in counties with drought

A new investigation by AP has found that the vast majority of counties where fracking is occurring in seven states are also suffering from drought. The AP found that fracking is presenting new strains on water supplies in some drought-stricken areas of the country. Among the findings:

Colorado: Farmers are used to paying up to $100 for an acre-foot for water, but energy companies are paying some cities $1,200 to $2,900 per acre-foot.

Texas: some cotton farmers are scaling back production due to drought, and local water officials said "drillers are contributing to a drop in the water table in several areas."

California: oil and gas companies want to drill new wells amid avocado and lemon groves, where irrigation comes from an already overdrawn aquifer or expensive water piped in from the distant Sierra Nevada mountains.

There is also a new report from the Carlsbad Current-Argus about water conditions in New Mexico. The report found that in Lakewood, north of Carlsbad, more than a dozen water well owners are seeking compensation from the state after their wells dried up. Other water well owners in the area have been "selling their water commercially and have over-pumped with no recharge in the aquifer."

The president of the Otis Mutual Domestic Water said that "the current trend to sell water to the oil and gas industry is causing its water managers some concern."

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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