From Texas Public Radio:
The recent discovery of a massive oil field in West Texas has many in the region on edge. Some are anticipating on a flow of jobs to the area but others are concerned that the drilling will spoil the desert’s beloved springs.
Scuba diving into the San Solomon Springs is like exploring a coral reef – except it’s in the middle of the West Texas Chihuahuan desert.
The water is crystal clear and filled with fish. They swim right up to the divers and surround them.
In a cave there are six large catfish who are less social. And 25 feet deep at the bottom the spring water is evident – jetting up through the sand – keeping the pool at a constant temperature.”
“It’s heated by the springs – by the lava underneath so it’s about 72 to 76 degrees always,” said Edward Wiles.
On this windy chilly day, Wiles brought divers here from Fort Bliss for scuba certification.
“It’s the only place here in Texas near El Paso that we have to come to. They allow us to use it for training and open water environment because it has the environment of open water,” he said. “It’s the perfect place to practice.”
The springs are protected at the Balmorhea Texas State Park – along with some endangered species.
“We have two endangered fish – two endangered aquatic snails that live here – nowhere else in the world – we do not disturb rocks at the bottom of the pool,” said Christa Morrison, who is posted at the park’s entrance station. She collects fees and gives a detailed, well-rehearsed speech.