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Expecting A Higher Water Bill? Blame Zebra Mussels

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There's a chance your water bill may be going up and you can blame it, in part, on Zebra Mussels.

Zebra Mussels are tiny aquatic life forms that stick to any smooth surface, and can gum up boat engines and motors at municipal water pumping stations.

In January, officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said the mussels were contained to Lake Texoma, but the shellfish are now in the Trinity River Basin as well.

Officials with the North Texas Municipal Water District say the infestation has resulted in the loss of 28-percent of its water supply from Lake Texoma and correcting the problem won't be cheap.

"We are needing to construct a $350 million project to extend that pipeline so that, that water no longer reaches the environment and we can get that supply back online," explained water district spokesperson Denise Hickey.

The proposed pipeline would run all the way from Lake Texoma to Lake Lavon.

"We would be moving the water. We would move it from Texoma," Hickey said. "It would be transported through a pipeline all the way to the water treatment plant, where the water treatment process would eliminate the Zebra Mussels."

In addition to the needed pipeline, there are other factors that could cause residents to see an increase in rates.

"Anytime we have capital improvement projects and we bring new water supplies online, our cities that we serve will see an increase in the wholesale water rate," Hickey said.

While the wholesale water rate will increase on October 1 that does not automatically mean that customer rates will go up. The water district will pass the increased cost onto the 13 cities that it serves and those municipalities will determine if they want increase charges to residential and business customers.

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