It's America's frackers versus America's farmers. They both want water and there's not enough to go around. Frackers want it to get oil and gas out of the ground. Farmers need it to grow food.
This is only just getting started but, this year, an estimated 1.2-billion dollars of corn, soya and wheat crops are at risk to the industrial demand for scarce water.
...industrial water users typically have a higher capacity to absorb the increased costs associated with rising water prices in comparison to agricultural water users, threatening an impact on crop production and yield if farmers are priced out of the market.
The stress on water resources is already considerable. Within the US, 18% of harvested cropland is irrigated (pdf), most of which is attributed to corn, soy, wheat and hay, but also includes water-intensive crops such as sugar beets, sugar cane, rice and cotton. Some 412 irrigation-intensive US counties are currently facing moderate to high levels of water stress – around 23% of total US land area.
...approximately one-third of publicly traded US electric utilities derive more than 10% of their electric power generation from already water stressed regions. One in every four publicly traded US electric utilities operate in counties that are both water stressed and irrigation intensive.
In the US, if the situation remains as it is today, the competition for water resources may reach a tipping point that results in stranded assets, reduced productivity, and increased tensions between farmers and industry. In the medium term, policymakers may need to dictate water allocation priorities.
Of course 1.2-billion dollars worth of foodstuffs is really small potatoes but it's a problem that could grow massively as America's aquifers are being drained, wells running dry even as sustained drought continues in America's agricultural belt.
I know! Why don't they just frack for water? Oh, I get it, never mind.