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Texas and Oklahoma reach agreement on water

Staff writer |
The State of Oklahoma announced it will allow a North Texas water district to resume pumping water from Lake Texoma, even though some of the district's pumps sit partly inside Oklahoma territory.

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That's according to a memorandum of understanding signed by Governor Rick Perry and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. The agreement is the latest development in the debate over the exact whereabouts of Texas' 540-mile border with Oklahoma.

"The State of Oklahoma will not object to the location of the pumps, or the replacement of pumps with the same total capacity, within the State of Oklahoma," the memorandum says. That clears up some of the questions about the border as Texas considers whether it will press Oklahoma and Congress to revise it.

In 2000, the states thought they had redrawn the border for the last time but 10 years later the North Texas Municipal Water District discovered that boundary bisected its water pumping station in Lake Texoma, where officials discovered an infestation of havoc-wreaking zebra mussels, which have disrupted underwater food chains across the nation and clogged power and water plants.

The mussel swarm left 28 percent of the district's water supply untapped because federal law bars the cross-state transfer of zebra mussels and other injurious species. That prompted the water district to petition Congress for an exemption and ask the states to redraw the border.

In December 2013, Governor Perry assembled the Red River Boundary Commission to study the issue. The body is expected to release final recommendations by mid-2015. Changing the border would require Texas and Oklahoma lawmakers to agree on an interstate compact, which Congress would then need to ratify.

The North Texas Municipal Water District is putting the finishing touches on a $300 million pipeline that will kill and filter out the mussels. With the district expected to switch on the system before the border error is resolved, Oklahoma has promised not to sue Texas or the district for pumping water across the border.

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