Once again, Texas is in the news over water contamination concerns in the Barnett Shale. A few months ago the WFAA-Dallas, TX conducted an investigation into the possibility that the drinking water in rural areas like Palo Pinto and Montague counties might be contaminated due to fracking in the region. The findings were frightening, as they discovered that the contamination was due to negligence on the part of drillers who are overseen by the Texas Railroad Commission. The measures put in place to protect the public fresh water supplies, as well as private water wells, are not being enforced, and now many lives are in danger. It’s important to note that the TRC elected officials receive roughly half of their campaign contributions from oil and gas industry insiders, but surely money isn’t the reason they are ignoring these issues…
New water concerns have surfaced this week in Wise County, which is also in the Barnett Shale region, and surrounded by fracking wells. 200 Residents who live in a small development called Chisolm Springs and share a well water system, say that their water is making them so sick they can no longer drink it. Some are even becoming ill by just smelling it and pictures on WFAA show that many residents are suffering from rashes and by what appear to be burns from showering in it.
Leslie Houston, a resident of Chisolm Springs for 10 years told WFAA:
I got out of the shower and probably within minutes, my hands were beet red and they were burning. I kept saying, ‘Something’s burning my skin, something’s burning my skin.’
She also said that her family never drinks the water because of its foul taste, but the rashes and also headaches and dizziness that she and other residents have reported have them worried. “It’s something in the water,” she said. “It has to be.”
The wells in the community are owned by Aqua America, which is a private utility company and also happens to be one of the largest in the country. Even though residents have repeatedly raised their concerns and filed numerous complaints nothing much was done. So far they have only tested the water for methane and chlorine, which they say are in compliance with required standards. However, since WFAA has been asking questions and pressing the state on the issues, new tests are being ordered for drilling-related contamination, which will be handled by TCEQ.
TCEQ spokesman Brian McGovern told WFAA:
The TCEQ will evaluate the results of samples that the system contracted an independent lab to collect. The TCEQ investigation report is anticipated to be completed by May 20, 2016.
It’s unfortunate that it had to take a very persistent news team and the threat of public backlash to get Texas to pay attention to this little community in Wise County. Thankfully tests are now being conducted, but meanwhile, they wait.
Unfortunately, there are currently no reports of any aid or fresh water being distributed to Wise County or any counties in the Barnett Shale region.
Featured Image via Stewart F. House/Getty Images