LAKE TEXOMA -- By the end of this month the North Texas Municipal Water District will begin pumping water from Lake Texoma again.
The district's pump station that sits at the Texas/Oklahoma border has not taken water from Lake Texoma since 2009. That is when zebra mussels forced the North Texas Municipal Water District to shut down access to 28 percent of its supply. Under the federal Lacey Act, invasive species cannot cross state lines.
The issue prompted congress to pass the North Texas Zebra Mussel Barrier Act which gave the district an exemption.
"And that bill was signed by Obama that says when we turn these pumps on, the ones that are in Oklahoma, we will not be in violation of transfer of that water," Denise Hickey, with the North Texas Municipal Water District, said.
The district also built a $300-million dollar pipeline that will filter out the mussels.
"When we actually start utilizing our Texoma supply that water will be transported in a closed pipe system from here at Texoma. It will travel all the way to our water treatment plant in Wylie," Hickey said.
From Wylie the water will go to about 1.6 million people in the Dallas suburbs, but the pipeline is expected to start up at a time when Lake Texoma water levels are the lowest since the 1970's. The district says if it used all the water it is allotted in a year it would only drain about a foot from Lake Texoma, but that does not make residents feel any better.
"We don't have anymore feet to give away. I mean we would need to come up 15 to give away the one," Jeremy Parkey, Manager at Dave's Ski and Tackle, said.
"With the drought that we're in I'm concerned about pumping more water out of the lake," Roger Arrington, a Colbert resident, said.
Congressman Ralph Hall has authored legislation to expand on the North Texas Zebra Mussell Barrier Act's exemption to include another invasive species, the quagga mussel.