In 2016, Texas was one of the fastest growing states in the country, adding almost a half-million people in a year’s time. With growth like that, securing future water supplies will become critical, so Sen. Ted Cruz filed a bill to loosen regulations around importing water from other states. The idea is to make it easier for Texas to buy water from its neighbors. But some worry it could lead to environmental destruction.
To understand why the bill (and a companion bill in the House) was filed, it helps to know the story of the North Texas Municipal Water District.
The district pumps water from Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma border. One of its pumps is on the Oklahoma side. When an invasive species called the zebra mussel appeared in that lake in 2009, the district had to stop pumping water into Texas while it figured out a way to treat the water. The reason: A federal law called the Lacey Act prohibits the transport and sale of endangered and invasive species between states.
“Because of that, we were restricted from being able to move that water across state lines due to the discovery of zebra mussels in Lake Texoma,” Janet Rummel, a public relations officer with the water district, said.
But it was too late. The zebra mussels had already spread into North Texas.
Now, Sen. Cruz wants to change that. His bill would allow a state to buy water that contains invasive species from another state as long as those species are already present in the area.