A small town in Texas has run out of water, and local residents are blaming shale gas fracking as the culprit. Barnhart, a town in Irion county, was already suffering after three years of drought, The Guardian reports, but it wasn’t until contractors started drilling wells to supply water for shale gas fracking that the real problems began.

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Beverly McGuire told The Guardian that nobody in town thought much when nine new oil wells were drilled a few years ago, but then ranchers and cotton farmers started having to reduce their stock and business because water started running out and rationing was enforced.

“They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells,” Buck Owens, a rancher who has been forced to reduce his 500 cattle and 8,000 goats to just a few hundreds goats, told the paper. Oil companies drilled 104 water wells on his leased land to extract oil.

While local residents are not permitted to use water at certain times of day to irrigate their lawns or fill their pools, the fracking companies are pumping out more water in a day than the whole town can drink, says another Barnhart resident. And now their wells have run dry.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality warns that roughly 30 Texas communities could run out of water by the end of the year, and climate change is exacerbating this already troubling situation. For some, this is a business opportunity. One man, Larry Baxter from nearby Mertzon, told the paper he is hoping to make money by selling water to the oil industry.

“If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water,” he said.

Via The Guardian

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