For years now, scientists have warned that, sooner or later, scarcity of fresh water would overtake the scarcity of fossil fuels as the pressing dilemma confronting humankind.
The moment of truth has arrived. That's the case in Texas, along with most of the rest of the world.
Long-term water planning sits at the top of our state's political agenda, with a constitutional amendment on water planning being presented for voter approval in the November election.
Meanwhile, energy is increasingly viewed as plentiful both here and globally as development of oil and natural gas resources from tight shale formations expands.
But there's a pivotal intersection between energy production and water scarcity, particularly in the most promising areas under development, the shale resources mentioned above.
One of the keys that unlocks shale's riches is a process called hydraulic fracturing - and, as every amateur etymologist knows, hydraulic means water. Lots of it in the case of bringing a shale rock well into production.
According to reporting by the Chronicle's Ingrid Lobet ("Hold the water: Some firms fracking without it," Page A1 Monday), "It takes about 6 million gallons of water to fracture a well in the Eagle Ford shale, about 2.6 million gallons in the Barnett shale, and less still in other Texas fields."
Those numbers add up, especially in areas where agriculture already competes for scarce water resources and where growing population across a booming state only adds to those pressures.
For the moment, those competing interests appear to be manageable in this state; indeed, cooperative use of water is utterly necessary given the place of fracturing in the continued success of the Texas energy economy.
But it is welcome news to learn that exploration and production companies are looking forward to a time when the fracking process can no longer rely on water for shale well development.
One San Antonio company, Black Brush Oil & Gas LP, is replacing water with a butane-rich mix to avoid the costs of moving and disposing of large amounts of water.
Butane is already present at the well site, and an additional advantage, according to Lobet's report, is that the butane-oil mix used for fracking can later be sold as oil.
Environmentally, butane will not have a significant impact, according to Barry Lefer, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Houston.
Technologies such as fracturing and horizontal drilling are responsible for making accessible huge oil and gas-bearing deposits globally. We have confidence that old-fashioned oil patch know-how will bring solutions for the scarcity and growing expense of using water in fracking.