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NTMWD gets good news from Washington
When zebra mussels were detected in Lake Texoma in 2009, the North Texas Municipal Water District was forced to stop pumping water from the lake.
The water district cleared a major legislative hurdle in getting the pump back online this week when the U.S. House and Senate approved a bill allowing the operation of a new pipeline being constructed from Texoma to the water treatment plant in Wylie. The bill is now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.
“This will enable us to fully utilize our pump station and enable us to bring back online the water supply we have lost,” said Denise Hickey, NTMWD spokeswoman. “When you take the 28 percent of our supply from Texoma off the table, you put a larger strain on the other water supply sources to meet the needs of the area we serve.”
Since Texoma has been offline, heavy water restrictions have been put into place during the summer months to ensure enough water is available for the 60 cities and communities served by the district. Hickey said if the district could have pumped water from Texoma this past summer, water restrictions would still have been in effect because of the drought but likely would have been less severe.
The district hopes the 46-mile-long pipeline, which is projected to cost about $300 million, will remedy its current water shortage. The pipeline is scheduled to be completed late next year and will allow water from Texoma to be transported directly to the water treatment plant, preventing further spread of mussels into Lake Lavon and the Trinity River Basin.
Before the pipe could be used, however, the district needed to be exempted from the Lacey Act, a federal regulation that prevents the transportation of non-native, invasive species such as zebra mussels across state lines. Currently, pumping water from Texoma would be a violation of the act since the water pump is in Oklahoma.
To remedy this situation, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) introduced a bill in the House that would exempt the district from portions of the Lacey Act, while Sen. John Cornyn introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The legislation was passed by the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday – both times with unanimous consent.
“This is how Congress should work,” Hall said in a press release. “Our local officials and water resources experts brought this issue to my attention, and I introduced this bill along with my colleagues Sam Johnson and Pete Sessions. We were able to move the bill through the Natural Resources Committee and through the House, and worked with Sen. John Cornyn to secure passage in the Senate. Passage of this bicameral effort with overwhelming bipartisan support is a testament to the merit of this bill and the work of the local water folks to make the case for this common sense solution.”
Cornyn said in a release that the bill is “a common sense piece of legislation that helps Texans.”
To see the bill in its entirety, visit 1.usa.gov/T7KWhf.
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