By BRAD KELLAR
Soon, the waters of Lake Texoma may no longer be off limits to North Texas residents and businesses, including many in rural Hunt County.
Legislation has been filed in the nation’s capital which would remove a bureaucratic barrier preventing local water districts from transporting drinking water out of the lake.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued a statement Tuesday after the Senate passed the North Texas Zebra Mussel Barrier Act of 2012.
“This bill will allow the Texoma Water Pump to reopen and provide water to the people served by the North Texas Municipal Water District and Greater Texoma Utility Authority,” Cornyn said. “It’s a common sense piece of legislation that helps Texans.”
The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) provides water to more than 1.6 million north Texas residents, including those served by the Caddo Basin Special Utility District and the Cash Special Utility District in Hunt County.
In December 2010, the NTMWD learned that a mistake in identifying the border between Texas and Oklahoma caused the Texoma Water Pump, previously standing solely within Texas, to straddle the state line. Due to the Lacey Act, which prohibits interstate transport of invasive species, like zebra mussels, the pumping of water from Lake Texoma was voluntarily suspended.
The bill adopted by the Senate Tuesday bill grants an exemption to the Act to allow the Texoma Water Pump to resume operating, while also removing zebra mussels to prevent contamination.
The larger bill containing the North Texas Zebra Mussel Barrier Act will now move to the House of Representatives where companion legislation sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) passed unanimously earlier this year.