New state law aimed at protecting Texas waterways

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 6:39 PM

LAKE CONROE, Texas -- A new law aimed at protecting Texas waterways goes into effect July 1, and it will have boat owners pulling plenty of plugs.

The law requires boats be completely drained before leaving one waterway for another anywhere in the state.

It seems like a simple thing, but not having a drain plug in place is trouble. Just ask the 11 folks on a boat on Lake Conroe Saturday, it began to sink and everyone had to be rescued when the plug was not in place.

Now those plugs are going to get a workout, a new state law takes effect tomorrow that requires all boats to leave the water behind in any lake they are in.

Bret Railey oversees Lake Conroe for the San Jacinto River Authority.

"It is in the best interest of everyone if you clean and drain and dry your boat," said Railey. "Now it has become law not just in your best interest."

It is relatively simple and just takes minutes, just a couple of drains, "Out of my boat just two. The main drain and the live well,” said boat owner Wayne Ray as he pulled the plug after a day on Lake Conroe.

It is all because of the Zebra Mussel which when full grown is about the size of a fingernail, but microscopic in its infancy and it spreads amazingly fast.

Wayne Ray has run boats all over the state.

"We don't want the Zebra Mussel spreading all over the state," said Ray. "It could mess with your boat and it can do damage to the water supply, electrical systems, the whole nine yards."

On his boat it is as simple as the turn of a bolt, and the pull of a plug.

The point of the law is making sure that the water from one lake stays in that lake so you are not even allowed to take fish caught in a lake away from that lake in a live well. Those fish have to be removed from water and put in a cooler on ice.

As he pulled the plug on his live well Michael Ray said, "I have never heard of such a thing. It is kinda crazy but that is how the law goes you have to abide by it."

There are some issues with how to enforce the new law for example, proving where water on a boat came from is tough.

That's why any citations you may see are most likely going to happen at a marina where law enforcement can look and see if people are draining their boats.

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