Wednesday night (Dec. 19), the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, with the support of Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03), including a provision to secure the water supply for North Texas. The House’s passage represents the last hurdle for the bill to become law.

“This is great news for North Texas,” said Johnson. “This bill will ensure a full water supply for more than 1.5 million Texans who have had to endure drought conditions for several summers. I’m pleased that Congress acted quickly to move this important legislation forward.”

The provision would exempt the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) and the Greater Texoma Utility Authority (GTUA) from being held in violation of the Lacey Act for transporting water from Lake Texoma to treatment plants servicing North Texas.

For more than three years, the presence of zebra mussels, an invasive species, in the lake has prevented the transporting of water via pipeline to the treatment facility in Wylie. Under the Lacey Act, transporting water over state lines with an invasive species is considered a criminal offense with penalties up to $500,000 for each violation. The mussels do not harm water quality, but they clog water intake pipes by attaching to anything underwater. The water can be cleaned in Wylie without violating the Lacey Act.

The bill (S.6387) contained provisions from H.R. 6007 sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and passed by unanimous consent.