LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fix the problem before it gets worse

Why is it that a governmental entity can get away with the creation of an environmental disaster and not be obligated to go back and fix it? And to make sure they really screw it up, they are going to spend $35,000,000 of our money to hide their negligence.

Folks, TXDOT is fixin’ to spend a bunch of our public money to put one of their messes out of sight. Before they do that, I think the public who’s paying for it should be reminded of what they’re trying to forget.

Back in 2013, TXDOT, Pecos County, and the MPGCD decided they’d go plug a well about 5 miles south of Imperial on FM 1053 ‘cause that well had artesian flow that was weakening the highway. Instead of hiring a competent contractor and letting him figger out the most prudent course of action, the bureaucrats decided to do it themselves. They intended to plug off the San Andres formation where the water was coming from. Because of the age and poor condition of the wellbore, they could not get to their goal. These bureaucrats-cum-well engineers decided they’d fix it by pumping a cement plug at the surface and let the water keep flowing below. BIG MISTAKE. $500,000 down that hole, and the San Andres water is still flowing and washing out the salt formation below. When the surface lost its support, the sinkhole started. That sinkhole is still growing and the salt is polluting the surrounding fresh water aquifer for miles around. It will continue to do so until the San Andres zone is plugged off.

The good news is that the technology and expertise to fix the sinkhole permanently is readily available and will cost a fraction of the $35,000,000 that TXDOT is wanting to spend to move the highway. Directional drilling is a proven method of getting to impossible to reach hydrocarbons. They can set up a drilling rig to the side of the sinkhole and guide the drillbit to get to the spot that cement needs to go. The best part is that it will cost a fraction of what the road move will cost and will take much less time and inconvenience. Before TXDOT is allowed to go and spend a pile of our money to move a road, they should fix the mess they made. The money they save could be spent fixing the potholes scattered around the Permian Basin. And, as a bonus, it won’t add mileage to the folks traveling from Fort Stockton to the North

I know the water around Imperial stinks, and a lot of people think it’s not the prettiest place around, but its our home and we like it here. We don’t want this sinkhole to continue to grow and our groundwater to become more polluted. Before TXDOT hides their mistake, they need to go and fix the problem before it gets worse.

Schuyler Wight