New Mexico town, oil companies in fight over water use

“I don’t want to call it a war, but we’re fighting for our lives down here,” Jal Mayor Stephen Aldridge said, standing under the scorching, 100-degree sun on a recent afternoon.

The dispute is over who gets to control water in this parched corner of southeastern New Mexico: Should the oil industry have access to tens of millions of barrels a year for operations like hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, or should the aquifer be conserved for local residents who say their future depends on it?

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