Still, the industry is sensitive to public concerns about fracking's impact on fresh water aquifers, and its heavy use of water. It takes between 4-to-6 million gallons of water to drill a well, at about a two to one ratio to the amount of oil that's produced. They are publicly committing to bring those numbers down, while maintaining production levels.
EOG Resources, the biggest producer in the Eagle Ford, plans to drill 400 new oil wells this year. On its website EOG stresses that it uses alternatives to fresh water, and that it's committed to reducing how much water it uses for fracking.
Looking Beyond Fresh Water
Oil service giant Halliburton, the leading provider of fracking services, has pledged to help producers reduce fresh water usage 25 percent by the end of next year, though recycling fracking water. The company's site features a running tally of how much water's they've saved customers.
Randy Dean, founder and former CEO of CDM Resources, thinks his tiny start-up can do Halliburton one better. They are working on tapping into the one plentiful source of water: sewage treatment wastewater, known as effluent.
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"We knew that effluent was actually growing, and yet it was just being discharged back into lakes and streams," Dean said.
He and his partners launched Alpha Reclaim Technology in 2011, spurred by the drought. After contracting to buy wastewater from more than 120 cities and towns in the state, this year they are starting deliveries to producers in the Eagle Ford shale play in the southwest part of the state.
Still in the early stages, Dean sees the firm's business as a public-private partnership model that can work long-term in other states, providing a sustainable revenue stream for cities from a renewable resource.
"For a right-wing republican like myself, it's caught me a little bit off-guard, going green," the 30-year oil and gas veteran admitted. "But it seems like a natural fit and something that needs to be done."