As of June 2014, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) restored 28 percent of its water supply when the Lake Texoma pipeline was brought back on line. The pipeline transfers water from Lake Texoma, located on the Texas-Oklahoma border, to the NTMWD’s water treatment plants in Wylie, Texas. NTMWD was denied access to the water from Lake Texoma in 2009 after zebra mussels, an invasive species was identified. Zebra mussels are a highly competitive invasive species that originated in Eastern Europe. It is believed that ocean-faring ships inadvertently carried them to the Great Lakes in the 1980s. They have since invaded many U.S. waterways and continue to be a nuisance.
Prior to 2009, a pipeline carried Texoma water for about 25 miles before it emptied into Sister Grove Creek and eventually flowed to Lavon Lake, where the NTMWD would withdraw and treat it for public use. But due to the federal Lacey Act, which prevents the spread of invasive species from one state to another, the pipeline was closed. This cut off all water from Lake Texoma to the NTMWD.
Due to the impending drought and the critical nature of water from Lake Texoma, the NTMWD worked with Congress to create legislation that would exempt NTMWD from the Lacey Act when transferring water to the water treatment plants. Congress passed the Zebra Mussel Barrier Act of 2012, which allowed the NTMWD to transfer water from the Texoma Pump Station directly to the water treatment plant in Wylie, Texas. Construction began on the $300 million pipeline extension project in 2012 and all four treatment plants are now treating water from Lake Texoma.
However, even with the resumption of Texoma supply, NTMWD remains in Stage 3 water restrictions because of the drought in both Lavon Lake and Jim Chapman Lake. It is crucial that everyone continues conservation efforts so we can save water for what is important – public health, sanitation, and fire suppression capabilities. Until the rains come in magnitude to end the current drought, be mindful of your water use: water your lawns once every two weeks, and only if needed.