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For Legacy Oil Family Facing Drought, It's Conservation or Bust

An oil field in the Permian Basin. Energy interests there are buying water rights to land near Balmoreah. The sales have divided a legacy homesteading family. (Chuck Wilson via Flickr)

The latest drought monitor from the USDA shows about 60% of Texas still suffering from a lack of rain and strained water resources.

Lately there’s been some concern brewing in West Texas about towns, cities or landowners selling their water to oil and gas companies, and the possibility of oil and gas development in the Big Bend.

Some landowners argue they're conscious of how they treat the land, even if they do sell water for drilling, since after all, it's their land.

In the latest issue of the environmental magazine High Country News, reporter Emily Guerin profiles one legacy oil family in the Permian Basin that’s keeping a close eye on the drought, and realizing in the process that it’s either conservation or bust.

We sat down with Guerin to talk about the Fasken Oil and Ranch Company's move to stop using fresh water for fracking.

The company's been around since 1913, when a Toronto-based lawyer named David Fasken bought up land along the Llano Estacado.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.