Balmorhea’s Clear Waters Could Be in Danger Due to Oil and Gas Drilling

Some experts say drilling could muddy waters, stop the flow and affect endangered species.

By Laura RiceDecember 27, 2016 3:13 pm

Balmorhea State Park is an oasis within the deserts of west Texas. It’s been both an escape and a destination for decades, especially known for its swimming hole.

Asher Price, with the Austin American-Statesman, says some people are concerned those pristine waters may now be at risk because of plans for the construction of a pipeline and the development of an oil field.

“If you’re driving out on I-10 you’re going past mesas, a lot of scrub land, and then you come to this little town just off the highway,” Price says. “The state park itself has a great big beautiful pool that was built by the civilian conservation corp in the 1930s.”

In September, Apache Corporation began leasing 20 percent of Reeves County – where Balmorhea is located – in anticipation of creating up to 3,000 future oil and gas drilling sites.

“This has the potential to be one of the biggest oil and gas plays in the country,” Price says. “Right now, they’re still doing tests [and] preliminary drilling but eventually there could be many wells in the region.”

Price says there has been some disagreement among experts over how much the drilling would affect the springs.

The Apache Corporation says they’ll be pumping from brackish water and will try to protect natural resources as best as possible, Price says. But some experts are worried that the water required for the fracking operations associated with the oil and gas extraction will rob the springs of water.

“That could mean less water in springs that feed the pool at Balmorhea State Park,” Price says, “and it could mean less water for a series of endangered species that live in a handful of springs in this area.”

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.