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 for the operation of a new pipeline currently being constructed from Texoma to the water treatment plant in Wylie. The bill is now awaiting the president's signature.
With Texoma accounting for nearly 30 percent of the district's total water supply, heavy water restrictions have been put into place during summer months to ensure enough water is available for cities served by the district. The loss of Texoma has also put extra strain on Lake Lavon, the district's main reservoir.
The 46-mile-long pipeline is projected to cost about $300 million and is scheduled to be completed late next year. It will allow water from Texoma to be transported directly to the plant, preventing the 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 resides 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 bill] will enable the water district to resume pumping water to better serve more than 1.5 million users and do so in a manner that provides safe water in the tradition of its 20 year history," Hall said in a September press release. "This bill will allow the Texoma Water Pump to reopen, provide much-needed jobs and provide enough clean water to the community during a season of severe drought, when water is desperately needed."
Cornyn said in a release that this is "a common sense piece of legislation that helps Texans."
To see the bill in its entirety, visit www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s3687es/pdf/BILLS-112s3687es.pdf.
This story will be updated Wednesday morning with additional comments from Hall, as well as comments from the NTMWD.
Copyright © 2013 - Star Local News