Pleasant Farms Residents Fear their Water Source is Running Dry 8/10/12
CBS 7 Reporter
August 10, 2012
Odessa, TX - One West Texas neighborhood fears their water wells are running dry.
These Ector County residents say their water supply is being sold for commercial use and now they worry it will be gone by the end of the year.
Homeowners in Pleasant Farms say ever since a water station was put in their neighborhood several months ago, their wells are running low. Selling water has become popular in the area and experts say really there’s nothing illegal about it.
Raymond Van Zandt is a long time resident of Pleasant Farms.
"We've been on well water ever since we moved out here. We drilled our first well in 1969," he says.
But ever since a water station was put in down the street, he says, his well is running out.
In fact, he claims, in 2 months it has dropped 60 ft.
"I’m wondering what's going to happen in the next two months,” Van Zandt says. “We all want the oil because that's our jobs. If we have no water, we have nothing."
Water experts say these sellers are not doing anything illegal.
"As long as they're not wasting it or they're maliciously pumping to hurt their neighbor then they have the right to do it,” says Hydrogeologist Darrell Peckham.
Peckham says at this point their best option is to negotiate with their neighbors and come to a resolution. Or they can spend the money to dig a deeper well and find another source of water.
"In Texas, regarding groundwater, groundwater is a rule of capture,” Peckham says. “Meaning that the land owner has the right to capture groundwater. But that also means that like, such on this case, if you have landowners adjacent to each other they all have the right to pump."
"This water needs to be preserved for human life, not oil companies,” Van Zandt claims. “We've been here 43 years, do we need to move? What do we need to do? We need some kind of program to protect our drinking water, what's going to happen when we run out?"
Peckham says landowner rights is becoming a hot topic and will be up for discussion in this next legislative session as the resource becomes even more valuable during the drought. He says there is no groundwater conservation district in Ector County, but even if there was, oil and gas companies are exempt because the Texas Railroad Commission regulates them.