editorial - Published: October 04, 2012
Pivate water wells should be tested annually. The Texas Well Owner Network, with support by the Frio and La Salle County offices the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, is providing a water well screening day for area residents on November 2, 2012 at the Frio County AgriLife Extension Office 400 S Pecan Street, Pearsall. Samples must be turned in by 5 p.m. on or before November 1, 2012. Samples from private water wells will be screened for common contaminants including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and high salinity. The cost is $10 per sample.
What happens to a sleepy, Texas town when technological advances in oil extraction transform it into the epicenter of an oil boom? To find out, I sat down with freelance writer Alex Hannaford to discuss his most recent Observer article, "A 'Black Gold' Rush in Cotulla." Find out what lengths Pizza Hut will go to in order to serve a hungry army of oil workers. Hear why Cotulla's roughest natives won't head to local watering holes after dark anymore.
A Black Rush in Cotulla
by Alex Hannaford. "Observer"
Ralph Ayala pulls up to the Brush Country Museum, parks his truck, and hops out, leaving the engine running. It’s 100 degrees outside and he doesn’t want to come back to a baking vehicle.
Just inside the museum’s entrance, a black-and-white photograph of an old ranch house hangs on the wall. In front of the house stands Joseph Cotulla, a small, serious man with gray hair and goatee—the founder and namesake of this little Texas town 70 miles north of the Mexican border. In the next room is a photograph of Lyndon Baines Johnson who once taught at the local high school. “He taught my great-grandfather,” Ralph tells me. “He paddled him, too. He paddled a lot of kids.”
Infrastructure Networks, a Houston, Texas-based provider of broadband wireless networks to Critical Infrastructure Industries, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a long-term de facto lease agreement for broadband spectrum which covers large portions of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.
The Eagle Ford Shale play trends across Texas, with the most active regions extending from the Texas-Mexico border far into Southeast Texas. The entire play is typically considered to extend into East Texas, roughly 50 miles wide and 400 miles long, with a thickness of between 250 and 400 feet at a depth of 4,000 to 12,000 feet. By the close of the first quarter of 2012, there had been some 3,649 well permits issued in the play, with 954 oil wells and 578 gas wells on schedule. Over the past few years, hundreds of companies – including the largest players in the energy industry – have poured thousands of personnel and hundreds of millions of dollars into the region. However, reliable communications have been a challenge in the often extremely remote area. This exclusive spectrum agreement will allow Infrastructure Networks to provide dedicated wireless broadband services over licensed spectrum into these currently under-served fields. "The impact of the Eagle Ford Shale over the last few years and going forward really can not be overstated,” says Infrastructure Networks CEO Stan Hughey.
”With so many companies invested in the huge amount of equipment and personnel on the ground in South Texas, reliable telecommunications has become a valuable commodity in its own right. We are excited to begin building a much-needed secure broadband wireless network to serve this critical segment of energy infrastructure,” Hughey continued.
Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas has no direct connection to groundwater contamination, according to a study by the Energy Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.
The study, released at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that many problems ascribed to fracking actually have other causes, such as "casing failures or poor cement jobs."
University researchers also determined that many reports of contamination are the result of above-ground spills or other mishandling of wastewater from shale-gas drilling, rather than the fracking process.
"Our goal was to provide policymakers a foundation for developing sensible regulations that ensure responsible shale-gas development," said Charles "Chip" Groat, an Energy Institute associate director who led the study. "What we've tried to do is separate fact from fiction."
With the advent of intensive shale-gas drilling, fracking has become a controversial environmental issue and the subject of national studies, including one being done by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA study, which seeks to determine whether fracking is a significant threat to groundwater contamination and water quality in general, includes North Texas' Barnett Shale.
South Texas residents are used to hearing about crops like oranges, grapefruit, pecans and spinach.But not many people around here are used to hearing about olives growing in this south Texas heat.But a few ranchers just north of Laredo say this is the perfect area to grow olives for extra virgin olive oil.Our Annette Garcia was out in Artesia Wells today to speak to Jerry Farrell who has an olive orchard in his back yard.Just off a busy highway, a little south of Cotulla, lies the serene Farrell ranch in Artesia Wells.In the back yard, an orchard of olive trees.
“Through experimenting he seemed to discover the further south you go the better this seemed to be the center bulls eye the target area.” It may not seem typical for the area but it turns out South Texas soil is great for olive trees and olive ranches are sprouting across the area. Jerry Farrell is a partner of the Texas olive ranch group.
“We’re the first one to commercialize olives in Texas we only make extra virgin olive oil we do not can any we grow nothing but olives you can make oil from.” This orchard in Artesia Wells has about 2,500 trees, give or take a few. But imagine 40,000. That’s how many are in an orchard over in Asherton. “2010 was the first year we got a good crop out of here. For what reason, we don’t know we got 14 tons out of this small orchard.” 400 tons were harvested in Asherton, near Carrizo Springs. “I had one tree in 2010 that one branch had over 230 olives on it just one branch like this.” “Here it is January and there’s still olives on the tree.”
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