The LCA Will Lead the Fight Against Lower Lake Levels

Shared from the 2018-05-11 Courier Of Montgomery County eEdition

Proposal to lower Lake Conroe water levels

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MIKE BLEIER President of Lake Conroe Association

This emotional discussion being aired via Editorials is filled with the denial of facts, misconceptions and misplaced anger. Let me express yet another representation of views from the Lake Conroe area.

Do not characterize the residents and businesses of Lake Conroe, or the Lake Conroe Association (LCA), as selfish and uncaring in the devastation incurred in Kingwood and surrounding communities. We, too, incurred personal and financial hardship in Hurricane Harvey as a reported 300 homes on Lake Conroe flooded and hundreds of boat docks and bulkheads were damaged. No, this does not compare to the Lake Houston area’s reported 16,000 homes and 3,300 businesses suffering damage in Hurricane Harvey; but our pain was real as well. The majority of the 500+ written responses the LCA has received clearly state sympathy for our neighbors downstream and consider compromises to assist them. No reasonable person would wish nature to create such havoc upon another.

Yes, lakefront property owners on Lake Conroe and users of this wonderful reservoir do not favor a “temporary” reduction of our lake level by 2 feet when many boat docks sit in 3-4 feet of water depth at full pool (elevation of 201’). As an example, the entire Bentwater subdivision (over 2,800 homes in total) shoreline with bulkhead was initially dredged to a depth of 4 feet. Walden, our largest sub-division on the lake, has even shallower water in a great number of locations. And, if you’re in one of many “canals” created along the lake like Grand Harbor, your water depth can drop even further. After investing often millions of dollars to enjoy lakefront property under an SJRA policy to maintain lake levels at the 201’ elevation, it should not be surprising that those families expect to enjoy their investment without SJRA and The City of Houston considering “changing the rules”. Might I also point out that when Lake Houston elected to release water during a March storm and drop its lake level by a reported 2 ½ feet, the media reported endless complaints from Lake Houston lakefront property owners that “We can’t get our boats out” and “Our boats are sitting in mud” and “Dropping the lake level is damaging our fishing and the bass that are attempting to spawn”.

And the convenience of getting one’s boat out seems to be the focal point of your describing us as “selfish”. We desire to protect our local economy and maintain property values, just as you do. Our Chamber of Commerce desires to protect our business community, just as yours does. The May 2 Conroe Courier reported $78 million in “Total Direct Visitor Spending” related to annual tourism to Conroe, and Lake Conroe drives a majority of those tourism dollars.

The LCA has attempted to work with leaders in the Kingwood area since Hurricane Harvey. When the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce and Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership initiated your “Plea For 3” campaign (representation on SJRA Board, remediation of San Jacinto River, and permanent reduction of lake levels on Lake Conroe), we were not asked to help but, rather, found out about the program by reading about it in the newspaper. We immediately contacted those organizations to open a discussion. The LCA came out publicly in support of the addition of Kingwood residents to the SJRA Board so as to provide the best information and education to Kingwood residents and businesses. We also publically supported flood control studies and remediation of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to provide longterm solutions. We did not support the call for a permanent reduction of Lake Conroe by 3 feet.

“Cooperation” is a two-way street. We thought we were enjoying a mutually cooperative relationship with our contacts in the Lake Houston area; holding 15+ phone conversations together and providing your leaders with every written correspondence we had on this topic (which typically comes out in what we call the “LCA President’s Update”). On January 25 and February 11, we wrote your leadership requesting an in-person meeting in Kingwood coupled with an informational tour of the Lake Houston dam. After receiving no response, we wrote again on February 20 and were answered “Currently our group is refocusing and revising our priorities for recovery. Maybe it would be best to meet once it is finalized.” We have not received any communication since then, although we continue to forward our LCA President’s Updates in an effort to resume dialogue. It’s now May 6.

How else have we attempted to work together? Both of our communities share the representation of well-respected Senator Brandon Creighton. We had lunch on January 25 to discuss Hurricane Harvey, the multiple consequences of this event, and possible actions going forward. The LCA forwards all LCA President’s Updates to Senator Creighton, as well as his office staff, and have asked for communication to resume. We have not heard from him or his staff since that January 25 lunch meeting.

Having worked with SJRA since becoming LCA President in 2004 and as a SJRA Board Director through February, 2017, I believe I have an open line of communication with SJRA and their respect. We solicit written feedback from our LCA Members and all POA’s across Lake Conroe, and we have shared that feedback regarding flood control and lake levels in writing with Jace Houston, SJRA General Manager. We were perfectly clear that the LCA felt empathy towards those devastated during and subsequent to Hurricane Harvey, and that the LCA (on behalf of the Lake Conroe community) would SUPPORT THE TEMPORARY REDUCTION OF LAKE CONROE LAKE LEVELS BY 1 FOOT IN THE SPRING AND FALL to provide some emotional and, possibly, practical relief to those downstream. A possible date to initiate such a program according to SJRA was Fall, 2018. Without the courtesy of a phone call or e-mail, SJRA placed the topic of reducing Lake Con-roe lake levels on their April 26 Board Meeting Agenda. In that Meeting, Mr. Houston presented his report and recommended to his Board that Lake Conroe be temporarily reduced by 6 inches in the Spring and 12 inches in the Fall. At the recommendation of Lloyd Tisdale, SJRA Board President for over 10 years, an alternate plan was presented by Mr. Tisdale (which may have represented the desires of Governor Abbott) for a reduction of 1 foot in the Spring and 2 feet in the Fall. With limited discussion and no facts to support the conclusion, the SJRA Board voted unanimously in favor of Mr. Tisdale’s proposal. I guess the SJRA Board thinks it knows better than their General Manager. Unacceptable to the LCA and this community, WE MUST NOW FIGHT THIS PROPOSAL.

And, to add insult to injury, Governor Abbot has requested (and SJRA has accepted) that SJRA create a new Flood Management Division without setting funds in place for this new Division. One of SJRA’s first actions was the employment of a new person to manage this Division at a reported annual salary of $180,000. To pay for this new Division and its associated costs (until some form of State or Federal funding is provided), SJRA is raising the rate it charges its customers for raw water by 1 ½ cents per gallon. So, who are those customers that will bear the burden of paying for a program that is highly focused on relieving flooding in the Lake Houston area? Out of courtesy, I will not specifically name SJRA’s three largest corporate customers; but I can tell you they do not reside in Harris County. But the largest purchaser of raw water is SJRA’s own GRP Division which removes water from Lake Conroe, processes that water, and sells it to its GRP customers in Montgomery County (most specifically, Conroe and The Woodlands). One can only assume that the GRP Division will pass along this 1 ½ cent per gallon increase and that this increase will, ultimately, be charged to the residents and businesses who consume that water. How is it that residents and businesses outside Harris County will pay for a SJRA Division which focuses on relieving flooding in Harris County?

Before I close, let me just point out a few final observations:

• Lake Conroe releases only accounted for 10-15% of the water entering Lake Houston and 18-20% of “peak flows” entering Lake Houston

• While the almost 80,000 acre feet per second being released from Lake Conroe at its peak was a tremendous quantity of water, Lake Conroe was receiving (via rainfall and run-off) 130,000 acre feet per second. If the SJRA dam and Lake Con-roe were not here, the Lake Houston area would have seen this entire 130,000 acre feet per second

• You can’t plan flood control based on an historic event that may not happen for another 500 years

• Through no fault of residents and businesses in the Lake Houston area, why was this area developed in a possible flood plain at the convergence of so many water sources? Could the answer lie in Harris County wanting to enhance its tax base and developers desiring profits? If so, why aren’t they paying to restore a quality of life to those so devastated?

• How could Harris County have constructed the Lake Houston reservoir and not considered its use for flood control? How would two (2) service gates ever release water fast enough in a storm event? How would intake pipes not located deep enough allow water of be pumped in a drought?

• SJRA has held its position in writing since the construction of Lake Conroe that it WAS NOT A FLOOD CONTROL RESERVOIR. Why is it now?

• Why are lake levels on Lake Conroe being reduced for four

(4) months of the year, but lake levels on Lake Houston propose to remain unchanged (except for releases prior to storm)?

Yes, the Lake Con-roe Association will lead afight with SJRA, The City of Houston, Harris County, and TCEQ regarding the temporary lowering of Lake Conroe by two (2) feet. We will fight to stop any modification of SJRA’s permit with TCEQ that desires to not have water released from Lake Conroe for flood control count against the current 100,000 acre feet per year maximum yield established upon construction of Lake Conroe in 1973. The fight can be avoided, and relief can be felt in the Lake Houston area, by accepting a more reasonable approach of temporarily lowering Lake Conroe by not more than 1 foot for flood control. The “powers to be” now know clearly our position with no hidden tactics or agenda, and it’s up to them to decide a best course of action. Let us help you rather than fight.

For information regarding the Lake Conroe Association (a 501 c 3 non-profit organization staffed exclusively by volunteers), you may visit www.lakeconreoassociation.com. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to lca@lakeconroe.com. We thank you for listening.

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of April 13, 2018

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

as of April 13, 2018

 

Hurricane Harvey and its effects are still being felt today. Back in January, we updated you on a request by numerous Kingwood-area organizations including the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce to have lake levels on Lake Conroe reduced permanently by 3 feet as a possible flood control vehicle to reduce flooding downstream of Lake Conroe. We asked that our Lake Conroe community residents and businesses write Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick to express our concerns over and disagreement with such a program. Our thanks go out to over 1,000 of you who took the time and initiative to write and mail those letters to Austin. The efforts by our community did not go unnoticed by the Governor’s Office.

Clearly, programs need to be implemented and funded that assist in flood control from northern Montgomery County to the Gulf of Mexico….and all points in between. Initiatives being considered include a comprehensive flood control study for the area, the creation of detention reservoirs on multiple creeks (such as Spring Creek, Lake Creek, and Cypress Creek to name a few), remediation of portions of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to improve water flow, better review and regulation of proposed residential and commercial development within flood plains, improved functionality at the Lake Houston dam, and enhanced communication before and during flood events. We are seeing much discussion and some action being taken by appropriate decision makers.

On March 29, Governor Abbott announced authorization of about $5 million in initial funding for flood control projects to support the Kingwood area. $3 million has been pre-approved to cover engineering and permitting costs of dredging the San Jacinto River, and $2 million has been pre-authorized for a regional study that will evaluate ways to prevent future flooding along the San Jacinto River. The funds come from the state’s Hazard Mitigation Fund, which is collected from FEMA by the state for redistribution to affected cities and counties.

Additionally, Governor Abbott has directed the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) to identify what can be done to prevent flooding along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and to implement long-term solutions to protect lives, property, and communities located downstream from Lake Conroe. SJRA has accepted this responsibility, hired an experienced individual to head this new department within SJRA, and is reviewing how to best fund this challenge. Harris County places flood control under the Harris County Flood Control District which is authorized to levy taxes to fund its operations. Voters in Montgomery County voted down a request to create a Montgomery County Flood Control District in 1985 which left a void in who was exactly in charge of flood control and how it would be funded.

To be certain, area flooding is not only a practical problem but also a political dilemma. Enormous pressure is being applied by Kingwood-area residents and businesses to elected officials such as Houston Mayor Sylvestor Turner, City Representative Dave Martin, State Representative Dan Huberty, and State Senator Brandon Creighton. Those elected officials, looking for relief for (and from) their constituents, look to Governor Abbott for action. Governor Abbott has responded in initiatives listed above and is applying pressure to SJRA to provide solutions. It is strongly perceived that “solutions” include utilizing the Lake Conroe dam and Lake Conroe lake levels as “one of the tools in the tool box” to provide flood control.

We met with Jace Houston, SJRA General Manager, last week to discuss their new role and the options being considered for flood control related to Lake Conroe. I’d call that meeting a constructive yet preliminary attempt to provide feedback representing the LCA’s perception of the desires of local residents and businesses. We communicated with over 150 individuals and organizations in person or by e-mail this week to start discussing public opinion on the matter.

There appear to be a minimum of three (3) initial responses that SJRA could provide to Governor Abbott regarding Lake Conroe and its lake levels. Those responses could resemble 1) Lake Conroe’s lake levels should not be used as a flood control mechanism, 2) Lake Conroe’s lake levels should be reduced in advance of imminent storms by pre-releasing water through the Lake Conroe dam into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, and 3) Lake Conroe’s lake levels should be seasonally adjusted downwards based on historic weather patterns. We’ll discuss each option briefly below.

Proposing to not utilize Lake Conroe’s lake levels as a flood control mechanism appears to be a response that brings the most uncertainty and potentially worst consequences. It is felt that such a response would most likely be met with an Austin reply resembling “If you’re not willing to include Lake Conroe in the solution, then we (Austin) are just going to tell you what your future lake levels are going to be.” Such an Austin reply would take away local input (including that of SJRA) and could permit the implementation of a disastrous program like the Kingwood proposal to “permanently reduce Lake Conroe’s lake level by 3 feet”.

Proposing a pre-release program in advance of imminent storms does not appear to be as effective as it sounds on the surface. SJRA states that it can only “safely release” 1 inch of water per day into the San Jacinto River without causing downstream consequences, and that a release of 6 inches per day floods the banks of the river in numerous locations. Pre-releasing water into the river only means that the river can no longer receive water from the numerous creeks that need to flow into the river without causing local flooding along those creeks. It was expressed to me that The City of Houston and Harris County Flood Control District really don’t like the “pre-release strategy” and that a “dry San Jacinto River would be best in a flood situation because the river could then accept the greatest amount of water from the creeks that need to empty in the river”. I’m also told that river authorities across the state, in general, do not typically support “pre-release” as a flood control mechanism. As it relates to Hurricane Harvey, a “pre-release” of 1 to 6 inches per day for 2 to 3 days in advance of the storm would not have assisted downstream when SJRA released over 15 feet of water through the dam and, in fact, would have only filled the San Jacinto River that much quicker and further added to flood problems.

Finally, proposing a “seasonally-adjusted lake level” may make the most sense. SJRA is gathering statistics on lake levels, rainfall totals, and releases from the SJRA dam since construction of Lake Conroe in 1973 to best support any proposal. In advance of that specific documentation, it can be represented that the highest lake levels, greatest rains, and maximum releases revolve around two timeframes – Spring rains from mid-March to mid-May and Hurricane Season from mid-September to mid-November. A proposal could resemble reducing Lake Conroe’s lake level to an elevation of 200’ (compared to a “full pool” elevation of 201’) from March 15 to May 15, and reducing the lake level to 199.5’ or 200’ from September 15 to November 15. No releases would occur if the lake were already at those adjusted levels.

It is not forgotten by Montgomery County or The City of Houston that Lake Conroe was built as a water supply reservoir and that Houston owns the water rights to 2/3 of the water in Lake Conroe. Pre-releasing water from Lake Conroe or “seasonally-adjusting” its lake level could have an effect on the ability to draw water for consumption should a drought follow any releases from the Lake Conroe dam. SJRA already utilizes the majority of its 1/3 share of the maximum 100,000 acre feet per year “yield” from Lake Conroe for water sales to its GRP Division (water treatment plant for Montgomery County public consumption), Entergy, and local consumers such as golf courses and residential irrigation permits. While The City of Houston has only called on its 2/3 share of water rights twice since the construction of Lake Conroe, these water rights are crucial as a back-up water supply to the water it pumps from Lake Houston for public consumption in Harris County. And while The City of Houston is actively working on negotiating and constructing supplemental water supplies that will replace its dependence on its Lake Conroe water rights, SJRA will continually require more water from Lake Conroe to serve the ever-growing population of Montgomery County.

As SJRA is developing their proposals on flood control, we can only hope that they keep a few things in mind. It is our opinion that 1) any proposed reductions in Lake Conroe’s lake levels (by “pre-release” or “seasonal adjustment”) are coupled with an equivalent volume reduction in Lake Houston, 2) any proposed plan has a limited duration (i.e. 2 years) that can be reviewed after its expiration once regional flood control studies are completed and the effects of remediation/dredging of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River can be evaluated, and 3) maximum lake levels (before release) on Lake Conroe are examined to minimize local flooding and structural damages.

LCA MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: If you are not a Member of the LCA, please consider becoming one AT NO COST now. We all know there is “power in numbers” and we need your e-mail address to best circulate our communication on a timely basis. To join the LCA, simply send an e-mail to lca@lakeconroe.com and request to be added to our Member Database. Rather than charge a “Membership Fee”, we now provide complimentary membership. We have found that when an emergency or “cause” arises that requires funds of the LCA, an e-mail from the LCA requesting voluntary donations seems to be the most effective tool.

Wow. That’s a lot of information when I go back and read this Update. We hope you find the information provided to be helpful in better understanding the current situation being so frequently reported in the local media. We do not feel any need for panic, and we endeavor to continue to be your voice in developing any solution involving Lake Conroe. We are not asking for any action from you at this time, and we will report back once SJRA develops its initial written proposal on its new flood control role. Thank you and thoroughly enjoy our beautiful Lake Conroe.

 

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA President’s Update

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of January 25, 2018

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!

Please find attached two (2) sample letters to Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. If you agree with their contents and choose to participate, please 1) print these letters, 2) sign and date the letters, and 3) place the two signed letters in two stamped envelopes to Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Your participation would be greatly appreciated.

DO YOU DESIRE TO SEE LAKE CONROE’S LAKE LEVEL DECREASED BY 3 FEET?

No? Send in your two (2) letters….and read on.

WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

As you may have read in our previous LCA President’s Update dated December 12, 2017, the Houston Chronicle on December 8, 2017, or the Conroe Courier on December 10, 2017, an initiative by the Lake Houston Area has commenced related to flooding incurred during Hurricane Harvey. Devastation incurred in the Lake Houston Area is being blamed, in part, on water releases from the Lake Conroe dam during that storm event.  In an effort to draw attention to the issue, this Lake Houston Area group initiated a letter-writing campaign to Governor Abbott and thirteen (13) elected officials in Austin.  Governor Abbott’s Office has estimated that they have received “thousands of letters” to date.  To represent what we believe is in the best interests of the Lake Conroe Area, we are asking you to join us in writing Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick by completing the attached sample letters.

WHO IS THE “LAKE HOUSTON AREA”?

A program named “Recover Lake Houston” and “PleaFor3LakeHouston” is being coordinated by, among others, the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership. For specifics on this program, you may go to www.lakehouston.org/recoverlakehouston.

WHAT DO THEY WANT?

“PleaFor3” relates to three (3) specific requests termed Reduction, Remediation and Representation. “Reduction” relates to reducing Lake Conroe’s lake level by three (3) feet as a means of downstream flood control.  “Remediation” references the removal of slit and debris from Lake Houston and the San Jacinto River (between Lake Conroe and Lake Houston) to improve water flow.  “Representation” refers to placing a representative from the Lake Houston Area on the Board of the San Jacinto River Authority.  The two (2) attached sample letters further explain these three (3) “R’s”.

HAVE YOU MAILED YOUR LETTERS YET?

PLEASE PARTICIPATE and mail these letters. For additional information, you may visit www.lakeconroeassociation.com and leave any questions on that site.  Thank you.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA President’s Update

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

as of December 12, 2017

As I wrote my first draft of this LCA President’s Update, the day provided a cloudy, rainy, 46 degree day.  And, as 5:20PM approached, it would soon be dark outside.  A few days later, while I was out of town, I’m told we experienced a snowfall that made our landscape look magic!  While Winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, I think IT’S HERE!  Put away the swim suits and wake boards, and slide on some thermals and rain gear.  For Winter lovers, enjoy your time of year.  For the rest of us, fear not as flowers will grow, bass will spawn and sunshine will abound in less than 100 days.

LAKE VEGETATION:  Texas Parks & Wildlife has completed its survey of Lake Conroe lake conditions and will officially release their findings shortly.  Preliminary results tell the story of a healthy Lake Conroe.  “Native vegetation” continues to expand naturally and from approved “plantings” coordinated by Texas Parks & Wildlife and local fishing organizations.  It is expected that the number of acres of “native vegetation” will be equal to or greater than the 334 acres reported in Fall, 2016.  As it relates to “invasive vegetation”, Lake Conroe contains some of the lowest quantities of “invasives” ever.  While tubers of Hydrilla may still lie dormant in the floor of Lake Conroe and the plant will undoubtedly return someday, we have no reportable quantities of Hydrilla currently.  Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth are still found in “pockets” around the lake, but the quantities are minimal and being controlled, in large part, by the aquatic herbicide spraying program of the San Jacinto River Authority.  When Texas Parks & Wildlife releases its official results, we will post that information to our web site at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

ZEBRA MUSSELS:  While Texas has spent millions of dollars in a “war of containment” against invasive aquatic species, we continue to lose ground across the State in the battle against Zebra Mussels.  Last month, Texas Parks & Wildlife reported that Lake Livingston on the Trinity River and Lake Georgetown on the Brazos River watershed have been colonized by Zebra Mussels.  These were the fifth and sixth Texas reservoirs this year to be documented as “holding established, reproducing populations of the non-native mollusks”.  Earlier in the year, Zebra Mussels were documented in Canyon Lake on the Guadalupe River, Lakes Travis and Austin on the Colorado River, and the Richland-Chambers Reservoir on the Trinity River.  Zebra Mussels were first documented in Texas in 2009 in Lake Texoma and are now reported in at least 13 Texas lakes.   Fortunately, Zebra Mussels have not been documented in Lake Conroe yet; and all boaters are urged to follow precautionary steps outlined under Texas Parks & Wildlife’s “Clean, Drain & Dry Program”.  For more information about the “Clean, Drain & Dry Program”, you may visit our web site at www.lakeconroeassociation.com or Texas Parks & Wildlife’s web site at www.tpwd.com.

HURRICANE HARVEY and LAKE CONROE:  August, 2017 brought record amounts of rainfall into and water releases out of Lake Conroe.  Our prayers continue for those affected by this terrible storm.  Lake Conroe reached a peak lake level of 206.2 feet above msl (mean sea level) surpassing its previous high of 205.5 feet msl in October, 1994.   With a normal lake level (often called “full pool”) of 201 feet msl , Lake Conroe and its lake front property owners found themselves battling waters in excess of 5 feet over normal lake conditions.  Bulk heads were breached, boat docks were damaged, watercraft floated unsecured across the lake, and unfortunate homes and businesses became flooded inside.  Our immediate area reportedly saw over 22 inches of rainfall during the event – 13 inches of which fell on that Sunday alone.  The previous record for our area was 15 inches of rainfall in October, 1994.  As a result of this onslaught of water, the San Jacinto River Authority released water from its dam site on the South side of Lake Conroe at an amazing peak rate of 79,141 cubic feet per second (surpassing the previous record release rate of 33,300 cubic feet per second in October, 1994).  Many people have a difficult time “quantifying in their head” what a cubic foot really looks like.  For something to relate to, I like to use a bowling ball as an example of a “cubic foot” (something 12” by 12” by 12”).  Can you imagine standing at the water release gates of SJRA’s dam site and witnessing 79,141 bowling balls going by EVERY SECOND?  For specific details of the rainfall event and actions taken by the San Jacinto River Authority, you may visit their website at www.sjra.net.

RAINFALL:  Through today, the lake community has received 63.2 inches of rain (compared to an annual average of 48.0 inches) in 2017.  The San Jacinto River Authority has released a total of 410,367 acre feet of water at the dam site – equating to 19.5 feet of water over the 21,000 surface acres of Lake Conroe (compared to an average annual release of 7.0 feet).

LCA RESPONSE TO GROUP’S REQUEST TO DROP LAKE CONROE LAKE LEVEL BY 3 FEET:  Sunday, December 10th’s Conroe Courier reported that a group organized as the Lake Houston Area Long Term Recovery Task Force has launched a program named “Recover Lake Houston”.  In response to the flooding devastation created during Hurricane Harvey in their community, this group requests 1) Remediation (dredging the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston to remove silt), 2) Representation (meaning placing representatives from their community on the Board of the San Jacinto River Authority), and 3) REDUCTION (MEANING PERMANENTLY REDUCE LAKE CONROE’S LAKE LEVEL BY 3 FEET).  Obviously, residents and businesses on and around Lake Conroe would not desire to see our lake level reduced permanently by 3 feet.  This is a very short summary of a very big request reported only 2 days ago.  The LCA has requested a meeting with this group and will immediately be preparing a response.  We will report back to you via e-mail and solicit your help shortly.  This topic will be discussed at our LCA Annual Meeting on January 18, 2018 and listed below.

LCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS BALLOT:  For Members of the LCA, you will be receiving your voting proxy via. U.S. Mail in late December to elect your Board of Directors for another year.  Please take the time to complete and mail your proxy back to us so that we may utilize your feedback.  As requested by some LCA Members last year, the voting package will include a biography of individuals on the LCA Board.  For any individuals desiring to join the Board of the LCA, we are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers who can join us for LCA Board Meetings once a quarter.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:  The Annual Meeting of the LCA will be held on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 10AM at the 3rd Floor Conference Room of the San Jacinto River Authority (off Highway 105).  Ballots for the LCA Board will be counted and a brief summary of the LCA and its 2017 happenings will be provided.

On behalf of the Lake Conroe Association, may we wish you a blessed and safe Holiday Season, and thank you for your support of our non-profit volunteer organization.  Should you have any questions, thoughts you’d like to share, or make a donation to the LCA, you may reach us at www.lakeconroeassociation.com or e-mail me directly at parmgb@aol.com.  We appreciate your interest and support.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA President’s Update

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

May 21, 2017

It’s been an early and beautiful Spring for us this year in Montgomery County. But, based on yesterday’s heat and humidity, that soon will pass and we’ll be welcoming (???) another Texas Summer.  Yet, if it’s going to be hot, what better place than on or around our fun-filled Lake Conroe?  Let us share with you some brief information about lake conditions and safety.

BOAT INSPECTIONS BY MONTGOMERY COUNTY CONSTABLES: Law enforcement in Montgomery County continues to work towards improved safety on our roads and waterways.  We’ve had “No Refusal Weekends” for some time now as an attempt to curb alcohol and/or drug related accidents in our vehicles and boats.  The Montgomery County Constables Department Lake Division is soon implementing an enhanced boating safety check to enforce existing laws on the lake.  The same rules still apply, but you may now be checked prior to launching your boat or jet ski from a public boat launch.

Starting this Memorial Day Weekend, the Montgomery County Constables will be providing personnel to check boats and jet skis prior to allowing you to put them in the water. A total of nine (9) public boat launches on Lake Conroe will be participating in the program.  Three teams of three people (with each team consisting of two Constables and one volunteer) will man three public boat launches on a given Holiday Weekend Saturday…..then move the three teams to three other public boat launches on Sunday…..and then move those three teams to the remaining three public boat launches on Monday.  It is anticipated that the teams will work from approximately 10AM to 2PM.

Should anyone be interested in joining the Constables’ safety check team as a volunteer, the Constables Lake Division will welcome your participation.

The boating safety check will be enforcing the same safety rules that have applied for years and which are regularly done on the water by the Constables Lake Division. It is anticipated that safety checks done on the land (prior to launching) will be much safer for all involved than performing these checks in the open lake, and should be able to be completed in a shorter period of time.  Upon a satisfactory completion of the safety check, the boater will be provided a bright-colored card by the Constable which remains valid for that one day only.  In the event that you are subsequently “pulled over” on the water that day by the Constables Lake Division for a safety check, you will simply show the bright-colored card and not be asked to perform the safety check on the lake.  Please keep in mind that the bright-colored card will note the number of passengers on the boat and that you had a sufficient number of life vests at the time of the check.  Should you add passengers to your boat later that day and fail to hold a sufficient number of life vests, you will remain subject to citation and fine.

The boating safety checklist includes:

  • Personal floatation device that is size appropriate for each passenger.  These devices must be “serviceable” (they work) and “accessible” (not in a locked cabinet on board)
  • A Class IV throwable or ring buoy
  • A charged and accessible fire extinguisher
  • A sound producing device for emergency
  • The Texas Parks & Wildlife registration card for the vessel (no copies allowed)
  • A valid driver’s license for identification purposes only

The safety checklist for a jet ski is the same as above except for not requiring a Class IV throwable or ring buoy.

Operators of watercraft on Texas lakes must be a minimum of 16 years of age. An exception to utilize watercraft at 13 years of age may be obtained by satisfactorily completing an approved boating safety course.

It should be noted that these safety checks at public boat launches are considered “voluntary” and may be refused by the boat owner. Boating safety rules enforced by the Constables only apply “in the water” and not “on land”.  If you are in violation of any of the safety rules BEFORE you launch, you will asked to obtain the missing safety items prior to launching.  If you are in violation of any of the safety rules AFTER you launch and are “in the water”, you are issued a citation by the Constables with a fine attached.  I’d guess that should you choose to refuse such a safety check on the land and launch your boat, it will be so noted and you may be “pulled over” on the water for that check by the Constables shortly thereafter.

For boaters who do not use public boat launches (private dock owners, country club marinas), you will remain subject to random boating safety checks on the water as in the past by the Constables. If you are checked “on the water”, you will NOT be issued a bright-colored card documenting your passing of the safety check.  The Constables have made this decision based on the time, safety and danger of writing out the bright-colored card while on the water.

ZEBRA MUSSELS: The terribly-invasive species called Zebra Mussels have now made their way into Lake Livingston based on the first documented case last week.  Zebra Mussels had already been documented in the Trinity River and at least five (5) Texas lakes.  Zebra Mussels are typically transported from one water body to another by attaching themselves to your boat or trailer.  Texas Parks & Wildlife have implemented their “Clean, Drain and Dry” Program as an educational and enforcement tool to stem the infestation of additional Texas lakes.  Should you observe anyone launching a boat into Lake Conroe that you believe to contain Zebra Mussels, contact a Game Warden regarding the enforcement of transporting Zebra Mussels as they can issue an Invasive Species Citation which is a Class C Misdemeanor. Please help to protect our Texas lakes.

INVASIVE VEGETATION ON LAKE CONROE: Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto River Authority were pleased to report to us last week that Lake Conroe is in wonderful aquatic health.  Giant Salvinia is primarily controlled by a spraying program and after only one treatment this year, they report Giant Salvinia limited to only 40 acres at this time (versus approximately 200 acres at this time last year).  Water Hyacinth (also treated by spraying) is reported to be minimal and under control.  Hydrilla appears to be restricted to only experimental “cages” where White Amur grass carp cannot reach the invasive.  When Hydrilla reappears in Lake Conroe (which it will inevitably do), a balanced, mutually-agreed upon stocking program of White Amur will be implemented immediately.

NATIVE VEGETATION ON LAKE CONROE: Subsequent to the 2006-2008 Hydrilla infestation and the introduction of White Amur grass carp, we found Lake Conroe’s native vegetation to be terribly damaged and reduced.  From its height of approximately 2,000 acres of native vegetation in 2005, we experienced a decrease to less than 200 acres of native vegetation by 2010.  Native vegetation is extremely important for water quality, limiting shoreline erosion, and providing fish habitat.  Through the efforts of Texas Parks & Wildlife, the San Jacinto River Authority, and volunteers from a variety of angling organizations, numerous stockings of native vegetation have been added to Lake Conroe to replenish the depleted resource.  Texas Parks & Wildlife reported 334 acres of native vegetation last Summer and anticipates a significant increase in that acreage when they complete their next lake study in Summer, 2017.  A plant called Water Willow has proven to be a wonderful success in the native plant restoration program.

On behalf of the Board of the Lake Conroe Association, we would like to thank you for your interest in Lake Conroe and your support of our non-profit organization. Previous LCA President’s Updates, informative articles, and links to other valuable websites can be found at www:lakeconroeassociation.com.  Should you have any questions or desire to provide feedback, we can be reached via that website or you may contact me directly at parmgb@aol.com.  Enjoy your Summer and be safe out there.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association