Day Four in Fort Stockton Water Hearings

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

FORT STOCKTON - A controversial plan to ship water out of Pecos County is under the microscope. Oilman Clayton Williams wants to pump that water off his land and transport to Midland.

But he can't do it, unless he has a permit.

On Wednesday, things got tense in Fort Stockton in the fourth day of a permit hearing.

"We know the district has a big responsibility and we want to protect the water in this area," Brock Thompson, with Fort Stockton Holdings, said. "We're not trying to steal it."

It's a fight to the finish in Fort Stockton but only one will be victorious.

Wednesday was day four of the water permit hearing process in Pecos County.

On the stand was Mike Thornhill. His firm, the Thornhill Group, was hired by Fort Stockton Holdings to conduct studies on the aquifer.

Thornhill was on the stand for more than five hours taking questions. A representative from the company said it's all necessary.

"We know it's a long process and we understand this is all part of it," Thompson said. "It's a very emotional issue and we respect that."

Fort Stockton Mayor Ruben Falcon agrees it is very emotional. He said the citizens are worried.

"There's no other word, there's a fear of the unknown," he said.

Thornhill said the aquifer will have plenty of water for future generations.

While on the stand, he was pressed for answers regarding their studies, including claims Fort Stockton uses more water compared to other cities in the state.

"We want the district to have the right information to make the right decision," Thompson said.

But Mayor Falcon disagrees.

"That was a very misleading statement," he said. "The City of fort Stockton gives the county a lot of unmetered water for their parks and facilities."

Mayor Falcon said he's pleased their legal team is raising questions about such a hot topic.

"Any time one of their experts is struggling to give a yes or no answer, it just makes our statement stronger," he said.

But Fort Stockton Holdings feels very confident as well, but what the Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District board decides remains to be seen.

"We look forward to a good outcome and getting the water to West Texas where we think it needs to be," Thompson said. "We're all hurting right now."

NewsWest 9 was not able to interview Mike Thornhill on Wednesday afternoon because he was still on the stand.

However, we did receive a statement from him regarding claims of inaccurate studies.

Thornhill said he and his employees at the Thornhill Group hold themselves to the highest integrity and he is very confident in their findings.

He also said he has over 20 years of experience and is using that to present his findings to the board.