From the Austin American Statesman comes this report about continuing efforts, decades after oil production began, to address saltwater contamination that continues to poison West Texas land.
It's a remnant of the early years of oil production in West Texas, not far from the site of the legendary Santa Rita #1 that sparked the our first 'boom' back in 1923. Things were done differently back then ... and that included 'what to do' with the by-products of oil production. For decades, salt water was diverted to evaporation ponds. But there were leaks - sometimes, serious leaks. According to the American-Statesman article by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, it contaminated 11 square miles (more than 7,000 acres) west of Big Lake, near the town site of Texon, killing virtually all vegetation and leaving the land vulnerable to wind and water erosion. Hundreds of mesquite stumps with three feet of exposed roots testify to the dramatic loss of topsoil. Since the 1960s, state regulators have required operators to inject salt water deep into the ground. But the article goes on to note that a "quirk in local geology" has contributed to the persistence of the Texon Scar.
To the right is a photo by the American-Statesman's Larry Kolvoord, with a scene familiar to any of us who have traveled U.S. 67, between Fort Stockton and Big Lake. CLICK HERE for a gallery of photos by Kolvoord. You can also enjoy and audio/video version of Haurwitz' report (the link is on the article web page).