Is Fracing Using Up Your Water? - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Is Fracing Using Up Your Water?

by Anayeli Ruiz 
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - During this drought, every drop counts and lot of viewers have complained about oil companies wasting water to get oil. On our NewsWest9 Facebook page, a lot of people were fired up about those companies getting water from fire hydrants. You may be wondering can companies do that?

"What we do in fracturing, we pump water and sand at a very high pressure which breaks the rock up and creates a fracture. The sand props the rock open and you get more oil or gas whatever you're producing to your well," Oil Expert, Morris Burn, said.

Morris Burns is the former President of the Petroleum Association and he says fracing doesn't waste as much water as you think.

"One fracing job out here let's say uses a million gallons of water. Midland is using 20 million every day and Odessa is using 20 million day. Percentage wise, it's a small percentage," Burns said.  

So where do oil companies get the water to start a fracing job?

"Often times we will go in and drill a water well on the farmer or ranchers property to use water for drilling and fracturing," Burns said.

But residents were concerned about companies getting water from the fire hydrants. Morris says the water they take from the city is not drinkable.

"It's not potable water, it's not water that you would be drinking. You could take a bath in it but you wouldn't want to drink it because it has too much chlorides and dissolved solids in it," Burns said.

How much water are these oil companies using up?

"The oil industries in Texas use less than two percent of all the water used in the state. In the Permian Basin, it's less than one percent. Agriculture uses the most amounts," Burns said.  

With tighter water restrictions, the City of Midland has cut the oil companies off.

"When the city decided to go to stage two of the drought contingency plan that is when those oil companies were prohibited to tapping in to the water system here at the city. Some of those were connected and are no longer connected to the water system. If anyone is getting water outside of those stage two restrictions, it would be granted by variance only," Tasa Watts, with the City of Midland, said.

NewsWest 9 talked to the City of Odessa and they said that oil companies do not get water from the fire hydrants. But construction companies continue to buy water from the city because if the construction stops then that hurts their economy.

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