NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The new $310 million Lake Texoma pipeline is finally online. When fully operational it will provide 28 percent of the water in the North Texas Municipal Water District. But even as it was publicly rolled out Friday the district cautioned there may be more belt-tightening on the way.

Water officials congratulated the 13 member cities for reducing demand by 10 percent. Then said it’s not enough.

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“We’re going to need much more… 15-20 percent that’s about double what our goal has been,” said Tom Kula, Executive Director of the water district. “The Texoma Pipeline does not keep us out of the watering restrictions we’re going to have to go through this summer.”

This came as long-awaited water from Lake Texoma finally returned. Invasive zebra mussels at Texoma forced the district to build a protective pipeline around Lake Lavon, its largest reservoir. But Texoma water is too salty so it must be diluted, 3-to-1, with water from Lake Lavon.

Two large pipes carrying water from each reservoir is blended at a facility in Wylie, and then put into storage tanks so they can be sent on to water treatment plants. It’s there that the zebra mussels and other harmful elements are eradicated with ozone to make the water safe. Virtually anything that requires oxygen, such as aerobic bacteria, viruses and other fungi are eradicated when exposed to ozone.

“The water treatment process will treat the zebra mussels just like they could do any other fresh water mussel they could send into the system,” said Deputy Director Mike Rickman.

But the system won’t be fully operational for weeks. And even then it might not be enough to avoid dreaded Stage-4 restrictions: no watering allowed. “It will help,” Rickman told CBS 11 News. “I’m not sure it totally offsets it because you have a tremendous amount of evaporative losses during the summer months on a reservoir that’s when it’s full is 22,000 acres in size.”

Thus the district is still asking users to water lawns only once every two weeks.

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James and Mary Ann Hawkins have already attained their personal Stage-4. They quit irrigating their yard altogether.

“Well, we just chose not to water. We decided that we’d rather have water to drink than have a green lawn,” explained Mary Ann. James catches water in a rain barrel for the plants. They have strong feelings about the need to conserve. “It pretty much angers us to see all of these people watering and their sprinkler systems come on when it’s raining,” said Mary Ann adding, “ It’s just foolish. It’s wasting water that we don’t have.”

The water district’s Tom Kula agrees. “There’s still areas where water can be saved. And all of our cities know that…we don’t know what we’re going to be like a year from now. So going into this summer we need everyone to save all that they can.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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