Many Still Expressing Concern Over Water Shortages from Fracking During Drought
“We’ve had dry years, and we’ve had hot years,” says Tom Giessel, who grows wheat, corn and sorghum in Pawnee County, Kansas. “Now we’re experiencing both.”
As drought continues to grip Kansas and much of the country, water is only getting harder to find in Pawnee, one of 102 Kansas counties under a federal disaster declaration.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that Giessel would be suspicious of any competition for his land’s lifeblood -- and right now, the most conspicuous competitors are oil and gas drillers, who are moving into Kansas and reviving the state's long-dormant energy industry.
Thanks to advances in technology -- largely the advent of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- drillers are able to tap oil reserves once thought to be unreachable.
But the new technique requires water, lots of it. And Giessel, who is also a trained geologist, is concerned about the long term impact of drillers on water supplies. He worries that under a new state water banking system, small-time farmers in need of extra water won’t be able to compete with deep-pocketed energy companies.
“Water’s going to flow towards the money," he says.