Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 10, 2017


Wendy Park, (510) 844-7138,

Oil Wells Leaked Into Corpus Christi Water Supply, Records Show

Group Expands Records Probe for Choke Canyon, Somerville Reservoirs

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas— Two “plugged” oil wells beneath the Choke Canyon Reservoir were found in 2012 to be leaking into the reservoir in south Texas, according to records obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through a Freedom of Information Act request to the federal Bureau of Reclamation. 

Choke Canyon Reservoir is one of three major water-supply lakes for the Corpus Christi Water Department. The department supplies water to Corpus Christi, 17 other cities, and in total more than 440,000 residential customers.

To gather more information about the spills and potential impacts, the Center is launching more public information requests to the Texas Railroad Commission and Corpus Christi. Records obtained thus far do not indicate the amount or type of pollution that resulted from the leaks or whether those leaks are ongoing.

 “Oil and gas development in and around Choke Canyon Reservoir threatens communities that rely on this precious drinking water source,” said Wendy Park, a Center attorney. “People who drink this water have a right to know how these leaks happened and whether their water is safe. The public needs to understand whether more oil well leaks are likely.”

News of the leaking wells comes as the Bureau of Land Management plans in June to lease federal public lands in and around Choke Canyon Reservoir and Lake Somerville, near Brenham, for more fracking. Conservation groups and the city of Corpus Christi filed formal protests in February challenging the plan, raising concerns about spills, water contamination and earthquakes that could jeopardize dam integrity.

Last week the Brenham City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the BLM's plans to allow fracking beneath Lake Somerville. The mayor is expected to sign and finalize it in coming days. The resolution cited concerns that loss or contamination of the lake's water supply would be “catastrophic” for its residents. Lake Somerville is the city's sole drinking water source.

Download the Bureau of Reclamation records here.
Download today's new records request here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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