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WHAT LIES BENEATH: CBS7 to air special report on West Texas water quality

Recordings of the CBS7 News at 5 newscast.
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:49 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - West Texas has seen a massive increase in earthquakes due to underground water injection.

But that’s just the surface of the problem.

The real issue is water and the increasing number of blowouts coming from old, abandoned wells.

Many of these wells, whether test wells or water wells, were drilled 70 to 80 years ago.

Now, they’re coming back to life, and not in a good way.

The underground pressure is increasing, and local aquifers shouldn’t have the pressure to cause blowouts like the one that recently happened in Crane County.

As more and more of these wells spew brine water with toxic, possibly carcinogenic, chemicals into the topsoil, it could seriously affect water quality here in West Texas. That’s already happening for many residents in Crane, Pecos, and Ward counties.

Several people spoke to CBS7 for this story, including ranchers, local government officials, and oil & gas attorneys. Nearly all believe state officials and private oil companies aren’t doing enough to stop the problem.

“They know that this is a disaster, but it is such a giant disaster that if they try to solve this problem, it will cost them tens of billions of dollars,” said rancher Ashley Williams Watt. “So, they have to ignore it. And they’re happy for ranchers to die out here if it saves them money.”

One well-control expert we spoke to tells us if the problem isn’t dealt with – and soon – the situation could require federal intervention, something nobody in West Texas wants, and what would be the last resort to save the land and economy.

We will have more about this and why it’s crucial to West Texans, not just in rural counties, but in Midland County and Ector County, including potential quality of life issues that could result from continued inaction.

“What Lies Beneath” will air on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on CBS7.

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