Skip to main content
David Shifflett, a farmer in Reeves County, parses records of his protests to the Texas Railroad Commission against permits for nearby wastewater injection wells.

Landowners fear injection of fracking waste threatens West Texas aquifers

Operators pump a sea of “produced water” underground for disposal. Intensifying tremors raise fears that the deep toxic waste pits could intermingle with water used for farming and drinking.

By Dylan Baddour, Inside Climate News, and Pu Ying Huang, The Texas Tribune

Oil wells and flares border the tract where David Shifflett grows pecan trees on Jan. 30, 2023.
A pipe for produced water sits at the edge of David Shifflett’s property on Jan. 30, 2023.

Underground pollution

A drilling rig in Pecos County on Feb. 4, 2023.
A worker offloads wastewater at a disposal well in Reeves County, Texas, in February.

Thousands of holes

Greg Perrin manages the Reeves County Groundwater Conservation District from his office in the city of Pecos.

“Oil field apocalypse” 

Rancher Schyler Wight surveys the puddles of crude oil that have been leaking from an abandoned well on his property.                                            (Rancher Schyler Wight surveys the puddles of crude oil that have been leaking from an aba
Various leaks are shown on Ashley Watt’s property during a tour led by oilfield firefighter Hawk Dunlap and attorney Sarah Stogner.  The pair are working with Watt to document the conditions of the leaky wells.
Ashley Watt, owner of Antina Cattle Company, began commissioning excavations on the abandoned wells on her property to investigate the leaks.
At Lake Boehmer, Hawk Dunlap holds a hydrogen sulfide gas monitor, which begins to beep when gas levels grow dangerously high.
Hawk Dunlap stands at the site of Lake Boehmer, a brine lake that has leaked out of an old well in Pecos County.

Earthquakes and springs

Neta Rhyne, owner of Toyahvale Desert Oasis, at her storefront near San Soloman Springs in Toyahvale, Texas.
Springwater flows to nearby farmers through roadside canals in the town of Toyahvale, TX.

Protesting permits

David Schifflett looks through old reports in the Pecos Enterprise newspaper at his home in Reeves County on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

Yes, I'll donate today

Explore related story topics

Energy Environment State government