Big Country

West Texas cities plan for future Cline Shale impact

Colorado City hosts Cline Shale oil meeting

COLORADO CITY, Texas - Hundreds met in Colorado City for the fifth Cline Shale Summit, one in a series of meeting designed to help west Texas communities prepare for the coming oil boom.

Several representatives from agencies across the state offered advice. Many had either seen or researched the effects of past booms.

"Whatford city, North Dakota. Ever heard of it? In 2009 the population was 1,500. Today it's 7,500," said Jeff Labenz-Hough of HDR, Inc.

The city lies within the Baaken Shale oil play in North Dakota. The experiences of cities like Whatford are shaping plans for Texas counties that lie within the Cline Shale.

"The oil and gas business is pretty much the same everywhere. So the impacts they're having in the Bakken are the same impacts as in Eagle Ford and the same you'll see here," said Labenz-Hough.

He said towns need to be prepared for a huge population increase.

"Start planning at a regional level, at a county level at a city level, because if you don't plan what your community will look like in ten years, someone else is going to do it for you," said Labenz-Hough.

Colorado City is trying to stay ahead, along with the rest of the affected towns.

"We're not nearly as prepared as we need to be but we're in the process so we're trying to get ahead of the game," said Mitchell County Judge Ray Mayo.

"We have a long way to go before we're ready for a double population," said Sue Young, Director of the Economic Development Corporation of Mitchell County.

Young said 95 percent of the county has already been leased by oil companies.

New hotels are moving into the area as well, but housing remains an issue.

"There are no houses for rent, and very few to buy," said Young.

Labenz- Hough stressed the advantages of learning from past booms.

"This is the one time being fourth or fifth in line is a good thing, because you can see what number one and two are going through and learn from their mistakes," he said.

Colorado City is already working on redoing sewage systems, keeping up with water demands and addressing road issues.

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