Texas Comptroller: Fracking-Like "Game-Changer" Could Avert Looming Water Crisis

Categories: The Environment

Thumbnail image for DroughtLakeDeadFish.jpg
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Few people are kidding themselves that the $2 billion voters set aside for water projects in November will be sufficient to quench Texas' growing thirst. The population is growing too fast and the prospect of drought looms too large. Coping with that will take some combination of new infrastructure, technological advances and the slaughter of the firstborn.

Most agree that will also take a good deal of conservation as well, but you won't find that mentioned much in Comptroller Susan Combs' new special report on Texas' looming water shortage. Instead, the report suggests that Texas can invent its way out of its water problem.

Unclear on what exactly that will entail? Combs helpfully translates that into a language Texans can understand: petroleum.

"In many ways, the outlook concerning fresh water could mirror what has happend [sic] for oil, another finite resource," the report says. "Oil markets have been upended in the last few years by vast new supplies brought to market by the application of new technologies, in this case the use of increasingly sophisticated horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

"It's possible -- though not certain -- that similar game-changers will effect the outlook for water."

See also: While Texas Plans Pipelines and Reservoirs, Activists Tout the Simpler Path: Conservation

Several pages later, after explaining how a wildlife nonprofit's attempt to ensure habitat for endangered whooping cranes and Mexico's water deficit to the U.S. threaten Texas' water supply, she lists some potential "game-changers" like storing water in aquifers to prevent evaporation and contamination; transferring water between basins; and desalinating ocean water and brackish aquifers. A full page is devoted to the great strides the fracking industry has made to cut back on water usage.

Combs finally gets around to conservation at the end when she suggests that the Legislature "consider establishing a program providing grants to water authorities and major water users to help them achieve meaningful increases in water efficiency due to conservation activities."

Not a bad idea per se, but it's well short of the water-saving mandates environmentalists were pushing for during last year's debate over the state water fund, and it's hard to see such a soft approach making a major dent in consumption.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

Water Shortage Report

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I've got a solution to the problem if I could find the innovative forward thinking people to get the job done. We currently have the ability to produce millions of gallons of water every single day by farming it out of the atmosphere. It's called industrial Atmospheric Water Generation. I am currently working with Texas A&M, the city of San Antonio and the city of Uvalde to get this thing up and running, but I know that nothing is going to get done until the people of Texas see this technology first hand. The wheels of innovation in Texas are moving much too slowly when peoples taps have already gone dry. 




Someone needs to slap her.


The ONLY reason why frac'ers are using less water today is because their industry has severely cut back on drilling in Texas, particularly in the Barnett Shale, and are therefore requiring less water. If drilling was occurring at the same pace it did in years past, then there would be no reduction in the amount of water they are using. They have not suddenly developed a methodology that requires less water or magically found an economically viable way to recycle and re-use their flowback and produced water even though some people lie through their teeth in making claims that is happening.

Montemalone topcommenter

I thought Perry already solved this problem with prayer?

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Steven Wright already invented powdered water.


@fracquestionsexcept that drilling has not decreased in the Eagle Ford Shale area. I realize that you are biased against hydraulic fracturing and ignore the good that it has brought about, but you can't ignore facts

"Texans consumed 18 times more water in keeping their grass green than the industry used in frac jobs. "
and the companies are using more recycled water because it lowers there costs.http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/07/18/fracking-companies-up-recycled-water-use/ also they are exploring the use of CO2 and other gases as a replacement for the water.


@pak152@fracquestions What a complete idiot you are, pak152. Water used to maintain laws gets recycled and re-used over and over again. Water used in hydraulic fracturing gets injected into the Ellenberger formation because it is too toxic and polluted to ever be cleaned and re-used.

And yes, SOME companies are EXPLORING the use of alternatives to fresh water, but for a fact none is doing that on a significant basis NOW! That is something they MAY do on a larger scale at some FUTURE date IF it is cost practical.

And, even though I have previously stated this MANY times before in past discussion I will say it again because it seems not to have soaked in the first million or so times I said it - I am NOT biased against hydraulic fracturing and I DO realize that it has done some good. The problem is that it has done far more damage than good, and that it has been brought into our population centers where it never belonged, but you are too stupid to realize that fact.

Just keep on intentionally mischaracterizing my positions and I will continue calling you on being the liar you are.


@moderatelibertarian Surely you have heard of this little thing called the hydrologic cycle, right? Water evaporates, cooling the earth in the process by taking heat with it. Then, it condenses returning warmth to the planet. Then it returns to earth as precipitation in the form of rain, snow or sleet. Then, the either runs off into our rivers, lakes and streams, or else recharges groundwater aquifers. Some of the water that recharges groundwater aquifers returns to the surface through springs or wells to provide freshwater for our use. And then the cycle starts over anew.

The only change to that cycle is when water is permanently removed from the hydrologic cycle by being disposed deep in injection wells 10-20,000 feet beneath the surface where the oil and gas industry assures us "it can never return to contaminate our groundwater or surface water."

So yes, a lot of water does evaporate, but we get to use it again and again. And, a lot of water is absorbed by the earth to nourish plants and recharge groundwater aquifers, but we get to use it again and again. Even in Texas! 


@fracquestio - Wow, fracquestions, you sure do get emotional about this topic.  Fact is, though, a lot of water used on lawns evaporates and does not soak deeply into the ground, especially in TX.


@fracquestions@pak152ah yes FTW attack the individual thanks for playing

"Water used in hydraulic fracturing gets injected into the Ellenberger formation because it is too toxic and polluted to ever be cleaned and re-used." anything you can share to back up your opinion?

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault