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

LAKE CONROE ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of November 28, 2016

2016 certainly proved to be a very exciting year around our lake community and the nation. It felt like our entire year was filled with local and national election rhetoric. We experienced heavy rains and flooding through rain events in March, April, May and June. For those unlucky enough to be in its path, a tornado (or some downplay the event to be “straight line winds”) struck the northern side of the lake tearing decades-old oak trees from the ground by their roots and snapping 100 foot tall pine trees in half. 2016 is becoming the “hottest year on record” for global temperatures and yet we’ve seen 36 degrees on our outdoor thermometer this month.

RAINFALL: Through today, the lake community has received 65 inches of rain (compared to an average annual rainfall total of 48 inches) in 2016. The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has released a total of 20.8 feet of water at the dam site (compared to an average annual release of 7.0 feet).

LAKE LEVELS: As a result of our often heavy and relatively consistent rainfall in 2016, the lake level on Lake Conroe has averaged 200.95’ and stayed above 200.0’ for 255 days out of 325 days so far this year. As you probably know, the standard elevation for Lake Conroe is a level of 201.0’. In terms of enjoying a relatively “full” lake, we were blessed with wonderfully high lake levels this year. I’m confident we can all still recall 2011-2013 where we experienced lake levels as low as 192.68’ and a total of 427 days below 198.0’.

AQUATIC VEGETATION: 2016 has been a relatively benign year as it relates to invasive aquatic vegetation. Based on recent Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) surveys and ongoing supervision by SJRA, Hydrilla remained virtually non-existent this year (observing only small fragments of Hydrilla in 3 TPWD “test cages” which protect aquatic plants from, among other fish, White Amur grass carp). While Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth continue to reside on Lake Conroe, ongoing aquatic herbicide spraying by SJRA and its sub-contractor (SprayCo) have kept the invasives at manageable levels. TPWD last reported surveyed totals of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth as 58 and 89 acres, respectively. TPWD has reported the emergence of “common” Salvinia here in small quantities (not previously experienced) and has added it to its list of invasives to monitor. We’ve seen a wonderful recovery of native vegetation on Lake Conroe thanks, in great part, to restoration efforts by TPWD, SJRA and many angling organizations. Native vegetation totals approximately 334 acres currently.
WHITE AMUR GRASS CARP: Based on the non-presence of Hydrilla currently and the estimated quantity of existing White Amur Grass Carp from our last stocking in 2008, it is unlikely any new White Amur will be added to Lake Conroe in the near future. Should Hydrilla once again appear, SJRA, TPWD, the LCA and anglers will immediately convene to assess the situation and address the need for a stocking.

ZEBRA MUSSELS: Other than catching a few vessels trying to launch into Lake Conroe with Zebra Mussels attached to their hull, we have avoided an infestation so far as best we know. Eight (8) Texas lakes have now been identified as containing Zebra Mussels including our close neighbors Lake Livingston and the Trinity River. We must all take particular care when transporting our boats, jet skis and any water-bound accessory from any lake known to contain Zebra Mussels. Please be sure you acquaint yourselves with TPWD’s program of “Clean, Drain & Dry your boat, trailer and gear every time you leave the water” when enjoying our Texas lakes. For more information, you may visit www.TexasInvasives.org.

EQUIPMENT DONATION TO MONTGOMERY COUNTY CONSTABLE’S LAKE DIVISION: The LCA was pleased to donate $4,975 in diving equipment to the Montgomery County Constable’s Lake Division last month. Among other tasks, the dive team is charged with the responsibility of “Search & Recovery” for victims in Lake Conroe. This new equipment (2 dive communication masks and a communication console for a Constable boat) allows the divers under the water’s surface to communicate with the Constables in the boat on the surface. Not only does this facilitate more timely recovery of the victim, but also tremendously improves the safety of the divers having to navigate Lake Conroe’s unclear waters (often having to dive at night). The Constable’s Department and Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court were very appreciative of the donation afforded by our LCA Members.

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 LCA 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. 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 Meeting every other month.

TOM BUTZ RETIRES FROM LCA BOARD: After 13 years of volunteering his time to the LCA Board (most of which he served as LCA Treasurer), Tom and his wife Nancy have relocated to Kansas. We very much appreciate his friendship and years of dedicated service to our organization. Good luck to ya’ll and we will miss you.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING: The Annual Meeting of the LCA will be held on Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 10AM at the 3rd Floor Conference Room of the San Jacinto River Authority (on Highway 105). Ballots for the LCA Board of Directors will be counted and a brief summary of the LCA and its 2016 happenings will be provided.

On behalf of the Lake Conroe Association, we all 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 or thoughts you’d like to share, 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
as of December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our Lake Conroe Association (LCA) Members and friends. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy a healthy Lake Conroe in 2015 that has seen above-average lake levels throughout the majority of the year. We can only hope for more of the same in 2016! Let me share a few updates with you.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING AND ELECTION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Our Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 10AM at the Administrative Offices of the San Jacinto River Authority (at the dam site off State Highway 105). We’ll meet in the 3rd Floor Conference Room. In this meeting, we tally the ballot/proxy votes for our Board of Directors for 2016, provide brief updates similar to what’s being discussed in this LCA President’s Update, and respond to questions from attendees. All are welcome.

The ballot/proxy for the election of the 2016 LCA Board of Directors is being mailed to our Members concurrently with this electronic LCA President’s Update. “Members” are defined as any individual contributing $100 or more (or any business contributing $250 or more) to the LCA since 2006 (the date of our last big fund raiser to combat the Hydrilla infestation in Lake Conroe). We are not actively soliciting contributions at this time as we have adequate cash reserves to meet projected expenditures for 2016. The 2016 Board nominated by the LCA consists of Gene Barrington, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, and myself. Members can nominate any/all from this list or write-in the candidate of their choice.

STATUS OF VEGETATION IN LAKE CONROE: In a Stakeholder Meeting with Texas Parks & Wildlife on October 28, 2015, a summary of aquatic vegetation on/in Lake Conroe was presented. In the world of “invasive” aquatic vegetation, the efforts of Texas Parks & Wildlife, the San Jacinto River Authority and nature itself have helped maintain a very clean and healthy Lake Conroe. Reported vegetation numbers were as follows: Giant Salvinia…..349 acres, Water Hyacinth……314 acres, Alligator Weed……196 acres, and Hydrilla…….0.01 acres. While 0.01 acres of Hydrilla would appear to make Hydrilla “all but eradicated”, those nasty Hydrilla tubers are still resting in Lake Conroe’s floor. It is presumed that as Hydrilla tubers start to sprout in today’s lake bed, the 5,155 White Amur Grass Carp that are estimated to still be alive are eating any new Hydrilla before it can spread. All of the Stakeholders pay close attention to Hydrilla quantities in Lake Conroe and regularly discuss if, and when, additional grass carp may be added to Lake Conroe. At this date, there are no planned purchases of additional grass carp. As to floating invasive vegetation such as Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth, the San Jacinto River Authority continues an aggressive spraying program to keep any further growth in check.

As to “native” aquatic Vegetation, you may recall that the White Amur Grass Carp introduced into Lake Conroe in 2005/2007 to control Hydrilla elected to move on to eat our “native” vegetation once they couldn’t find any more Hydrilla. Through the dedicated efforts of many “Stakeholder” organizations, an active planting program was implemented to re-establish valuable “native” vegetation. Prior to 2005, Lake Conroe had an estimated 2,000 acres of “native” vegetation. By 2010, “native” vegetation had been reduced below 200 acres. We are pleased to report that Texas Parks & Wildlife estimates a total of 1,215 acres of “native” vegetation today. The primary plants comprising “native” vegetation in Lake Conroe today include Black Willow, Sesbania, Panicum, and Water Willow.

SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY’S WATER TREATMENT FACILITY: The $500 million Water Treatment Facility and Pipeline Distribution System is complete. During July and August, the collective “system” was tested, flushed and disinfected….resulting in the use of less than one inch of Lake Conroe water. The first treated water from Lake Conroe was delivered in September, 2015. It is estimated that during the years 2016 – 2026, one inch of water will be removed from Lake Conroe per month (or a total of 12 inches per year) for use at the plant. Currently, all future users of treated Lake Conroe water have not completed their “receiving“ infrastructure and, therefore, may not be utilizing Lake Conroe water at this time. During October, 2015, less than 6/10 of one inch of Lake Conroe water was delivered through the system.

LAKE CONROE ELEVATION, RAINFALL & EVAPORATION DATA: I thought it informative to share with you some statistics related to lake levels on Lake Conroe during the twelve (12) months ended September 30, 2015.

As you might imagine, “evaporation” fluctuates year to year based on not only temperature but also variations between drought and wet years. From 1973 (completion of Lake Conroe construction) to 2014, evaporation for Lake Conroe has averaged 53.22 inches. For that period, the highest evaporation was 81.31 inches in 2011 and the lowest was 42.07 inches in 1973.

For a glimpse at our rainy Fall season and the continued “full pool” we have enjoyed on Lake Conroe, rainfall totals were 7.38 inches for October, 4.44 inches for November, and 4.01 inches for the first 22 days of December, 2015.

The “table” above totals water released from the Lake Conroe dam equivalent to 228.37 inches during the 12 month period ended September 30, 2015…..or approximately 19 feet of water across Lake Conroe’s surface. I point this out to illustrate the limited effect of removing an estimated 1 foot of water per year between 2016 and 2026 for use at SJRA’s Water Treatment Facility. Of course, we will not always have years like this and, undoubtedly, we will endure drought again. And as we move forward in years, it is anticipated that 4 feet of water per year will be used by the Plant during years 2036 and beyond. Continuing to explore ALL options for alternative water sources and maximizing conservation will be extremely important for our future. Having said that, let’s also not panic about the effects of removing 1 foot of water per year over our next 10 years.

SJRA WATER PRODUCTION IN SEPTEMBER, 2015: The San Jacinto River Authority provides water to entities contracting with SJRA to do so. Some entities such as sub-divisions like Bentwater, Walden and April Sound (to name a few) produce their own water via independently owned water wells and do not purchase water from SJRA. The following data ONLY represents the water produced by SJRA. While the following data does not report totals for all water production in Montgomery County (only water produced by SJRA), I still found the data to be of interest. This data reports on the month of September, 2015:

Groundwater (water well) Produced……….1,942,361,242 gallons
Surface Water (Lake Conroe) Produced……….94,555,000 gallons

Alternative Water Produced:

· Catahoula Aquifer………………….……10,064,419 gallons
· Reuse (septic reuse)………..……….…..19,730,000 gallons

LAKE CONROE WATERSHED PROTECTION PLAN: SJRA commissioned a Stakeholder Group of users across the San Jacinto Watershed (444 square miles) to review “best practices” related to keeping the water in Lake Conroe as clean as possible. While many valuable practices evolved from these meetings, I find one to be of great interest. Are you aware that over 1,400 residences within 2,075 feet of Lake Conroe operate their own septic system? 2,075 feet is very close to the lake. Are you aware that after the first two years of operation, the homeowner does not have to maintain or report on their privately-owned septic system? Poorly maintained septic systems this close to our shoreline provide the potential for serious lake pollution problems. As a result of this newly-implemented Lake Conroe Water Protection Plan (which has been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), all owners of Aerobic Treatment Units within 2,075 feet of Lake Conroe must submit maintenance reports every 4 months to SJRA. The maintenance report must be completed by an authorized maintenance provider licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This practice is well do and will help maintain a healthy Lake Conroe for all of us. Specific details of this program may be obtained by contacting SJRA. Please note if you live in a sub-division providing septic services on your behalf, these homeowner rules do not apply to you and your sub-division already reports to the TCEQ.

THANK YOU for reading our LCA President’s Update. We hope you find something of interest. The Lake Conroe Association is a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization operating for the benefit of local residents and businesses around Lake Conroe. We have been in continuous operation since 1973. All work for the LCA is performed by volunteers. While we are not undertaking a fund raising campaign again this year, donations are always accepted at Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378. For more information regarding the LCA, to review previous LCA President’s Updates, or to contact us with your questions, please see us at www.lakeconroeassociation.com. Should you wish to contact me directly, you may e-mail me at parmgb@aol.com. Again, thanks for your support and have a safe and happy holiday.

Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association

LCA President’s Update

LCA President’s Update
June 25, 2015

The only thing predictable is that the weather is not! In reviewing a past December 1, 2011 LCA President’s Update, I write “After the generous rainfall we experienced over the past two weeks, our landscape may be happier but our lake level remains at a dismal level of 192.79 as of today….8 feet, 3 inches below normal pool. These lake levels reflect the lowest levels in the history of the lake.” Here, in 2015, we have recorded rainfall totals of 30 inches year-to-date (compared to an annual average of 48 inches) and water releases from the dam year-to-date totaling 290,661 acre feet, or 14 feet across Lake Conroe’s 21,000 surface acres (compared to an annual average of 7 feet). The water released year-to-date equates to 69% of Lake Conroe’s total volume. May, 2015 was the wettest May in Texas history, and April/May, 2015 was the wettest April/May in Texas history.

LEWIS CREEK RESERVOIR:
As you probably saw through the media, Lewis Creek Reservoir (private reservoir for Entergy just North of FM1097 and East of Lake Conroe) experienced some slope failures at several locations along the backside of their dam during our Memorial Day weekend rain event. Evacuations were ordered to protect those in the area. Entergy and local elected officials have reported that all failures have been corrected and danger no longer currently exists for local residents and businesses.

FACTOID: As hard as it rained during our Memorial Day weekend rain event, it did not rival a rain event in 1994 where we received 5 times as much rain (24 inches in 24 hours).

DISASTER DECLARATION FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY:
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal issued a disaster declaration on June 15, 2015 due to severe weather storm damages that have occurred in Montgomery County since May 4th of this year. A request for assistance has been sent to Governor Greg Abbott requesting state and federal aid for additional funding to make needed repairs and to provide the citizens of Montgomery County with effective relief. Montgomery County has been added to the Small Business Administration (SBA) declaration due to being a contiguous county with Harris County. Information concerning the application process for the SBA assistance can be found on the Montgomery County OEM website at www.mctxoem.org. This information is provided in cooperation with the Office of Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal.

REDUCED WATER USE:
With our multitude of rain events in 2015, water use has dropped dramatically. It has been reported that between 65% to 80% of water use in Summer is for irrigation (with an estimated 50% of that related to over-watering or runoff waste). Annually, over 30% of domestic water use in Montgomery County relates to irrigation of lawns and landscape…..and Mother Nature is providing all the water our yards have needed. The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has reported that for the months of April and May, 2015, The Woodlands has purchased its least amount of water since 2001.

INVASIVE AQUATIC VEGETATION:
Rain is good. Too much rain can be bad – especially if you’re floating, invasive aquatic vegetation. Both Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth float on the lake’s surface (as compared to Hydrilla which roots itself into the floor of the lake). Often, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth flourish in the shallow creeks and coves on the northern portion of Lake Conroe; making treatment of these invasives difficult because you cannot reach them by boat. With our heavy rains recently, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth have been “flushed out” of their shallow waters and into the main body of Lake Conroe. SJRA and its spray contractors have been taking advantage of this rare opportunity and aggressively treating all invasive vegetation with approved aquatic herbicides.
As it stands today, Texas Parks & Wildlife and SJRA report less than 0.2 acres of Hydrilla in Lake Conroe. You may recall that we experienced an approximate total of 2,033 acres of Hydrilla infestation in February, 2008.

SJRA SURFACE WATER TREATMENT PLANT AND PIPELINES:
As of April 30, 2015, SJRA’s Surface Water Treatment Plant is estimated to be 93.5% complete and its related Pipeline System 93.0% complete. On June 1, 2015, SJRA started capturing water from Lake Conroe, processing that water through its Surface Water Treatment Plant, and delivering that water through its Pipeline System. At this time, the water is not reaching the public for consumption; but, rather, is being utilized to test the treatment processes and pipeline delivery system. Typically, Municipal Utility Districts (MUD’s) accepting water from SJRA’s Surface Water Treatment Plant will “blend” that water with aquifer ground water before delivering a final water product to the consumer. As the testing of the “blending” process is completed, the “blended water” is utilized to “flush” the Pipeline System and ready that Pipeline System for active consumer use. The estimated date for full implementation and use of SJRA’s Surface Water Treatment Plant and Pipeline System (and water delivery to the public) is September 1, 2015. The annual amount of water to be removed from Lake Conroe by SJRA over the next ten (10) years is estimated to be 25,000 acre feet, or about 1.2 feet of water across the surface of Lake Conroe per year. Key variables in this calculation of “25,000 acre feet over the next 10 years” include population growth and average water use per household.

LAKE CONROE RESERVOIR RULES & REGULATIONS:
SJRA has released its updated Lake Conroe Reservoir Rules & Regulations effective June 1, 2015. The last amendment to these regulations was effective August 28, 2003. I’d say the primary purpose of these amendments includes clarification for the public and enhanced enforcement by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department of those Rules. A brief summary of revisions to these Rules follows:
1. Boating: The amendments clarify local rules related to the operation of boats and vessels on Lake Conroe. Notably, amplified music and other noise that unreasonably disturbs the public is prohibited between the hours of 10PM and 6AM. Amplified music containing explicit lyrics is prohibited at any time if audible to the general public.
2. Picnicking and Camping: The amendments allow for picnicking and camping on SJRA land in designated areas. The amendments prohibit extended camping stays, littering, and burning refuse on SJRA land, and prohibits unreasonable noise between the hours of 10PM and 6AM. Glass containers are now prohibited on Ayers Island and Lake Conroe Park. Camp fires are permitted on Ayers Island so long as SJRA property is not damaged. Individuals may not enter SJRA land intoxicated nor become intoxicated on SJRA land.
3. Other significant sections of these amended Rules include Definitions, Public Access and Use, Fishing and Hunting, Firearms, Feral Animals, Encroachment, Sanitary Conditions, Abandonment of Personal Property, Commercial Operations, Raw Water Use, and Penalties & Enforcement.

This brief summary is my interpretation of significant topics and amendments for the everyday lake user. For a complete copy of SJRA’s Lake Conroe Reservoir Rules & Regulations, visit SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net.

LAKE CONROE WATERSHED PROTECTION PLAN:
SJRA has recently implemented its Lake Conroe Watershed Protection Plan. Simply put, the Plan outlines steps necessary to maintain and improve our high water quality on Lake Conroe. In addition to SJRA staff, a diverse group of stakeholders were assembled to facilitate the Plan development effort. The Lake Conroe Association was among the list of over 26 stakeholders to participate in this Plan.

Among topics included in the Plan, you will find extensive summaries and graphics of Lake Conroe regarding the physical watershed location, soil types and land cover; and locations of marinas, storm drains, petroleum storage tanks, on-site septic facilities, wastewater treatment plants, wastewater outfall locations, boat ramps, boat dock locations, and water quality sampling sites. For the technically-inclined, specific water chemical data is outlined and compares current versus desired conditions. Finally, a variety of Plans have been developed and listed regarding solid waste management, on-site septic systems, urban run-off, municipal storm sewer system discharges, centralized wastewater collection and treatment plants, construction sites, and public education and outreach.

For homeowners operating residential septic systems (aerobic treatment units, or ATU), particular attention should be given to Section 4.3.1 (Regulatory Changes for the OSSF Program). Upon installation of an ATU, homeowners have a two-year maintenance program mandated by TCEQ. Under new proposed regulations for the Lake Conroe Watershed, all ATU systems must be maintained beyond that initial two-year period by a licensed maintenance provider or by a residential homeowner that has been certified and licensed by the TCEQ. SJRA currently has approximately 2,000 ATU’s in its jurisdiction.

For a complete copy of SJRA’s Lake Conroe Watershed Protection Plan, visit SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net.

BOATING AND ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION:
I believe that most operators of watercraft are unclear on alcohol consumption regulations. We all know that operating any vehicle under the influence is a poor choice, and the Lake Conroe Association does not endorse boating and drinking. Having said that, this section is provided to clarify the law as it currently exists. SJRA has confirmed with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department that “the driver of a boat can have an open container, but they cannot be intoxicated”. Be smart and safe out there on the lake; and if in doubt, do not drink and operate watercraft.

SJRA’S FLUSH CAMPAIGN:
SJRA has developed a “Flush Campaign” to promote education about what should and should not be flushed through the sanitary collection system. Washing fats, oil and grease has developed into a recurring issue causing clogs of sewage pipes. This informative campaign educates people on what is safe to flush down the toilet and what’s better suited to be thrown in the trash. Some paper products, wipes and other products may be marked as flushable but could result in costly home repairs and cleanup of wastewater treatment plants. For more information, you may visit SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net. To coordinate a presentation for your subdivision or organization, please contact SJRA’s Public Relations Manager Ronda Trow or SJRA’s Public Relations Specialist Michelle Guidry at 936-588-3111.

LAKE CONROE ASSOCIATION IN MAY, 2015:
To update those in the area regarding the $500 million SJRA Surface Water Treatment Plant and Pipeline System, the Lake Conroe Association and SJRA hosted a tour of those facilities at the SJRA dam site on May 12 before a Lake Conroe Association Board of Directors Meeting. Representatives from Bentwater, Walden, April Sound, Point Aquarius, Grand Harbor, Shelter Bay, and Rancho Escondido were in attendance, as well as individuals from a Utility District, MUD Board, realty company and consultants. The tour was followed by a presentation from Jace Houston, General Manager of SJRA, regarding SJRA’s treatment facility and the topic of available water in our aquifers for public consumption.

Thank you for your time in reviewing this edition of our LCA President’s Update. For more information regarding the Lake Conroe Association or for prior editions of our LCA President’s Updates, please visit us at www.lakeconroeassociation.com. We wish you and yours a safe and happy Summer season on and around beautiful Lake Conroe.

Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association

PRESIDENT’S UPDATE – December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays to our LCA Members, their families and friends. I’d say we had a great year on Lake Conroe based on the return of normal lake levels, lack of invasive vegetation, and strong economic growth. It feels like Santa has already given us gifts for the year. Please allow me to summarize some current LCA and lake information for you.

LCA ANNUAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS ELECTION: If you are a LCA Member, you will have received a 2015 Annual Meeting Proxy Card with this Update which allows you to vote for your LCA Board of Directors for 2015. We are fortunate to have all eight (8) current LCA Board Members agree to enter their names for re-election. Those current Directors are Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski and Ben Richardson. We encourage you to vote for the re-election of the current Board or “write-in” a candidate of your choice by returning the Proxy Card prior to January 16, 2015. I’d like to thank the current LCA Board for volunteering their time in 2014 on behalf of the LCA and our lake community.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING: The Annual Meeting of the Lake Conroe Association will be held on January 16, 2015 at the SJRA Meeting Room (3rd floor of the 3-story building) at the Lake Conroe dam site at 10 A.M. The Annual Meeting summarizes the Member vote for 2015 LCA Board of Directors and presents general information on Lake Conroe (similar to content below).

RAINFALL AND LAKE LEVELS: The current level of Lake Conroe is 200.86 (with an elevation of 201.0 being “normal pool”). The year was a bit unusual in that we had numerous slow, steady rains as compared to significant individual rainfall events (which produce a great deal of run-off and fill the lake quickly). While the rainfall totals recorded at the SJRA dam site totaled 43.69” (which is less than the average annual rainfall on Lake Conroe of 48”), lake levels remained relatively high throughout the year. Our lake level exceeded an elevation of 199.0’ for 348 days out of the 349 days year to date. I think most would state they were happy with lake levels in 2014 and hope for more of the same in 2015.

WATER RELEASES AT THE SJRA DAM: We finally reached a “full pool” elevation of 201.0 on Lake Conroe on May 13, 2014 after enduring 4 years of below that level (April 25, 2010 being the last time a level of 201.0 was recorded). While small quantities of water in excess of the 201.0 elevation were released through the dam starting May 13, the total quantity of water released in 2014 totaled 30,292 acre feet, or approximately 15” of water across the lake (and no water has been released since July 23, 2014). The average annual release of water through the dam approximates 7 feet per year.

IMPROVEMENTS AT SJRA “SERVICE OUTLET”: Water is released from Lake Conroe by SJRA through either its “service outlet” (intended for small amounts of water – typically 25 to 500 cubic feet per second) or through any combination of its three “gates” (usually releasing water in increments of 500 cubic feet per second and typically associated with a large storm event). The “service outlet” plays an important role in SJRA’s efforts to “conserve” lake level. When the lake goes over 201.0’ during a storm, SJRA staff begin releasing the excess water. Their goal isn’t to try to keep the lake from going over 201.0’, but they do have to stay within certain safe operating parameters. In fact, they are typically able to hold or “slowly bleed off” a few inches of water to “conserve” what they can. Because the “service outlets” can be fined-tuned to release smaller amounts of water (as compared to the main “gates”), SJRA staff use these gates to slowly release water when the lake is only a few inches over its full level. SJRA’s Board (of which I am a Member) approved a rehabilitation project of that “service outlet” which will maximize the long-term functionality and effectiveness of this “service outlet”. The project is currently underway and will be completed in phases over the next two (2) fiscal years.

LAKE CONROE ADVISORY BOARD: Since the hydrilla infestation of 2006, an Advisory Board was created to discuss lake conditions, how to best control invasive vegetation, and how to protect important native vegetation on Lake Conroe. Participants in this Advisory Board include Texas Parks & Wildlife, San Jacinto River Authority, angling organizations and the LCA. A meeting was held on December 15, 2014 where various updates were provided and suggestions for ongoing maintenance were presented. Key points of interest include:
• An estimated 7,900 hydrilla-eating White Amur Grass Carp are still alive in Lake Conroe
• Hydrilla is estimated to occupy only 0.01 acres currently (basically, none)
• Water Hyacinth is estimated to occupy 162 acres currently
• Giant Salvinia is estimated to occupy 48 acres currently
• Native Plants have rebounded to an estimated 1,171 acres currently
• Based on the estimated 7,900 Grass Carp still alive and the lack of Hydrilla on Lake Conroe, no stockings of White Amur Grass Carp are planned for 2015
The LCA is pleased to participate in this committee and do its part in providing feedback towards a healthy Lake Conroe.

ZEBRA MUSSELS: Please be reminded to inspect your watercraft for Zebra Mussels should you transport your vessel from one body of water to another. Zebra Mussels have been confirmed in seven (7) Texas water bodies and we strongly desire to keep these intruders out of Lake Conroe. Texas Parks & Wildlife has implemented significant fines for individuals not cleaning ballasts, live wells, bait buckets, bilges, wake board bladders, or any other water-holding compartment when removing a vessel from or launching a vessel into a Texas water body. For more information regarding Zebra Mussels, please visit our LCA website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com. Remember the Texas Parks & Wildlife campaign slogan, “Clean, Drain & Dry Your Boat”!

SJRA WATER PROTECTION PLAN: Lake Conroe has been blessed with relatively clean water chemistry compared to most Texas lakes and we desire to keep it that way. With the future use of Lake Conroe water as a drinking supply, the importance of maintaining clean water is even more important. With this in mind, SJRA created a Water Protection Advisory Board comprised of 17 diverse individuals from many walks of life including a marina owner, real estate consultant, dredging and bulkhead company, municipal water provider, Montgomery County constable, angler, forester and numerous appropriate businesses. The LCA has two (2) representatives on this committee. Counties represented included Montgomery, Walker and Liberty counties. Having held 8 informative meetings requiring feedback from all participants, SJRA is completing its first, formal Water Protection Plan for Lake Conroe. Topics addressed include storm sewer run-off, animal waste and fertilizer run-off, poorly maintained residential septic systems, larger municipal or sub-division on-site septic systems, proper disposal of chemicals and paints, and other related subjects. SJRA will be releasing its first draft of this policy in early 2015 and, upon feedback from the Advisory Board and the SJRA Board, a formal policy will be implemented for the betterment of our local water supply.

SJRA WATER TREATMENT FACILITY AND DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM: With the $500 million Water Treatment Facility and Distribution System (Pipelines) ahead of its scheduled completion date, SJRA anticipates testing of the project to commence June 1, 2015 and actual delivery of drinking water effective September 1, 2015. Through October 31, 2014, the Water Treatment Facility is 80% complete (based on paid invoices of $151, 707,353) and the Pipeline is 83% complete (based on paid invoices of $123,839,431). That pipeline includes approximately 52 miles of various sized concrete coated steel pipe, PVC pipe, and bar wrapped concrete mortar pipe. One of the common questions I hear from our LCA Members is “How much will the lake go down when SJRA has to fill all of those pipelines?” It is assumed that we’re talking about a significant amount of water just to get the pipelines filled and pressurized. In fact, the estimated quantity of water needed to fill the pipelines and two (2) five million gallon above-ground storage tanks is 16 million gallons, or approximately 1/32” of water from the surface of Lake Conroe. An additional use of water will be the initial “flushing” stage of the project required by TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). TCEQ maintains guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting all the storage tanks and pipelines before they are placed in service. The “flushing” will last for several days to a few weeks depending on how the process goes, and initial estimates are that “flushing” could use approximately 300 million gallons in a best case scenario (or the equivalent of a ½” of water from the surface of Lake Conroe) to as much as 900 million gallons in a worst case scenario (or the equivalent of 1 ½” of water from the surface of Lake Conroe).

SJRA WATER DELIVERED AND PUMPED: SJRA is in the business of providing water for residential and commercial use in primarily Montgomery and Harris Counties. Raw water is delivered to industrial customers mostly from Lake Houston (with a small amount of industrial use out of Lake Conroe). SJRA also has a few municipal customers receiving raw water from Lake Houston. Groundwater is captured via water wells and delivered primarily for the ultimate use of residential customers. The total amount of water (both groundwater and surface water in both Harris and Montgomery Counties) “delivered” and/or “pumped” by SJRA during the fiscal year ending August 31, 2014 exceeded 30 billion gallons. While the vast majority of that water does not come from Lake Conroe, I found it interesting that 30 billion gallons approximates 22% of water held in Lake Conroe at a “full pool” elevation of 201.0’.

IS RESIDENTIAL WATER USE DECREASING? During the fiscal year ended August 31, 2014, the amount of water sold by SJRA and utilized by residential customers appears to have decreased. In fact, residential water use in The Woodlands was ten percent (10%) less than what was budgeted for that period. Much work is being done by SJRA to clarify the “Why?” Given we had relatively steady (while moderate) rainfall and did not endure prolonged periods of drought during that period, was there less use by residential irrigation systems? Did the use of “rain sensors” on residential irrigation systems “turn off” the systems more frequently based on this more steady rainfall? Did people truly choose to “conserve” water and modify their previous water usage based on requests from Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District and San Jacinto River Authority for conservation? Did people around Lake Conroe choose to conserve, in part, because they felt it may help to protect lake levels? The results of further researching this phenomenon will be important in planning water resources for our future.

FUN FACTS AND FIGURES: SJRA’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2014 included some interesting “factoids”. Based on the most recent Census Data available, please find the following information specifically for Montgomery County:
• Population = 499,137
• Attained High School = 86%
• Attained College = 30%
• Median Age = 36 years old
• Median Household Income = $66,422
• Unemployment Rate = 6.8%
The report provides similar data for the following Counties/Cities as well: Barrett, Baytown, Crosby, Grimes County, Highlands, Liberty County, San Jacinto County, Waller County, and Walker County. It would not be surprising to note that Montgomery County recorded the highest Population, Attainment of High School and College, and Median Household Income compared the other Counties/Cities. For those of us in Montgomery County, we have been fortunate to set roots here and, I believe, the future looks promising.

LCA MEMBERSHIP: Until the LCA needs additional funds for a “project”, we will not invoice our Members for dues. Of course, donations are accepted and appreciated at any time. Individual memberships in the LCA are typically billed at $100 per year. The LCA is a 501 (c) 3 Not-For-Profit Organization and donations are generally tax deductible. Our mailing address is Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378. For more information about the LCA, visit our website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

Well, another year has passed and I feel the Lake Conroe area has fared well. On behalf of the Board of the Lake Conroe Association, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous year to come. We will keep you updated as new information becomes available. Should you have any questions, please contact me via the LCA website (www.lakeconroeassociation.com) or at parmgb@aol.com. Thank you for your support of the Lake Conroe Association.

Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association

President’s Update April 18, 2014

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of April 18, 2014

 

The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) wishes you a Happy Spring and a wonderful year on Lake Conroe to come.  We have many happenings in and around our community, and we wanted to take an opportunity to update you on topics of interest.  In no particular order of importance:

 

U.S. MAIL OR E-MAIL?:  The LCA chose to deliver this Update by both U.S. Mail and e-mail.  Our normal, less expensive method of delivery is e-mail.  In the event that you received this Update by U.S. Mail but not by e-mail, we must not have your current e-mail address.  In the event that you would like to be added to our e-mail list, please 1) go to our web site (www.lakeconroeassociation.com), 2) select “Contact Us”, and 3) provide us with your name and e-mail address.   You will be added for all future e-mail correspondence.

 

LOCAL ELECTIONS:  In a County of approximately 500,000 residents and 267,969 registered voters, only 43,510 votes were cast in our March, 2014 Montgomery County local elections.  This equates to 16% of our registered voters controlling who shall best govern Montgomery County.  Run-off elections will be held on May 27, 2014.  As voters have fewer decisions to make on run-off election day (some races were decided by majority in March and propositions were voted on in March), voter turn-out for the May elections is typically lower.  Do you want 8%, 12% or even 16% of registered voters to decide the elected officials who will represent you for the next 4 years?  PLEASE GET OUT AND VOTE ON MAY 27, 2014!

 

WEATHER:  Have you ever seen so many ups and downs in a weather pattern before?  Our Winter season (defined as December to February) produced the third coldest Winter in Montgomery County in recorded history.  I thought I was finally warming up this past week, but then a cold front approaches and gives us 35 degrees again.  My plants were not happy!

 

RAINFALL:  With an average rainfall of 48 inches per year in Montgomery County, we saw rainfall totals of 39.89 inches in 2013.  Through April 14, we have averaged 9.89 inches of rainfall over the past six (6) years and have seen 7.86 inches at the Lake Conroe dam site so far in 2014.  We will soon be entering our wettest months of the year (May and June).  Forecasters say an El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific (one that brings more moisture) could help out Texas by Fall and into Winter.

 

LAKE LEVELS:  Lake Conroe is currently at a level of 200.67 feet (with 201.0 being considered “full pool”).  It’s just wonderful to look out and see an almost-full Lake Conroe, and anglers and recreational boaters seem to be out in numbers taking advantage of the conditions.

 

SJRA LAKE LEVEL REPORTING:  Some erroneous lake level data has been reported by avid followers of SJRA’s website recording lake levels.  The lake levels reported can actually come from 1 of 4 different sources; namely, one gauge operated by the US Geologic Service, two gauges operated by SJRA, and a manual reading by SJRA.  Gauges, being an instrument, can become faulty periodically and require re-calibration or, in the worst case, replacement (as was done with the USGS gauge recently).  Strong winds out of the North can push water higher on the SJRA dam and create an artificial rise in lake level of over an inch or two.  The lake level data on the SJRA web site is recorded electronically by one of these three gauges and, in the event the data becomes suspicious, another gauge is selected for future reporting.  Should conditions dictate that none of the three gauges may report accurately, a manual reading is taken and input into the web site.  All three gauges utilized by SJRA are currently functioning properly.

 

NO WATER HAS BEEN RELEASED:  Contrary to many rumors, no water has been released from the Lake Conroe dam since March 21, 2010.

 

TEXAS RESERVOIR LEVELS:  Reservoirs across Texas are 65% full (the lowest level for this time of year since 1990).  Normal for this time of year is 84% full.  In the Austin area, the two lakes managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority are a combined 37% full.  At a level of 200.67, the Lake Conroe reservoir would be measured as 99.8% full.  Lake Houston and Lake Livingston are reported to be 99.3% and 100.0% full, respectively.

 

LAKE CONROE VEGETATION SURVEY:  An annual survey of native and invasive vegetation on Lake Conroe is conducted at least annually by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD).  Our next survey is scheduled for May, 2014.  Preliminary observations made by both TPWD and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) record limited Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth at this time.  Rising lake levels have “flushed out” some invasive vegetation from shallow coves, creek beds and marshy areas; and aquatic herbicide applications have been applied by SJRA on an “as-needed” basis.  We will report the TPWD survey results upon study completion.

 

WHITE AMUR GRASS CARP:  As you may recall, an estimated 2,052 surface acres of Lake Conroe were covered by the invasive aquatic plant Hydrilla in early, 2008.  This represented 9.4% of Lake Conroe’s total surface acres.  123,765 White Amur Grass Carp were purchased by SJRA and LCA between March, 2006 and February, 2008 to combat the invasive weed.  An estimated 10,000 White Amur remain alive today and are reaching the end of their typical 7 to 10 year life span.  Upon completion of TPWD’s May, 2014 Lake Conroe Vegetation Survey reporting today’s Hydrilla status, a stakeholder group of SJRA, TPWD, LCA, angling organizations and others will meet to discuss when and how many White Amur should be purchased to maintain control of Hydrilla on Lake Conroe.  We will report the results of that meeting.

 

ZEBRA MUSSELS:  The presence of live Zebra Mussels or their larvae has now been confirmed in six (6) Texas water bodies:  Lakes Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Belton and Lavon.  To date, Zebra Mussels have not been detected in Lake Conroe.  Due to the diligent efforts of marina owners on Lake Conroe, at least two (2) vessels have been prohibited from launching into Lake Conroe after the marina owners identified Zebra Mussels attached to the hulls of the vessels attempting to launch.  Please be very aware of this state-wide problem and pay particular attention to any vessel being launched in Lake Conroe which has visited any of the infested lakes listed above.  For more information regarding Zebra Mussels, please visit our LCA website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

 

SJRA BOAT DOCK LICENSES:  It’s that time of year again and SJRA has billed boat dock owners on Lake Conroe for their annual boat dock license fee.  The fee is based on the number of square feet on your boat dock (with a minimum fee of $60 per year).  SJRA has 3,892 licensed residential boat docks and collects approximately $622,472 per year for those licenses.  SJRA has 82 licensed commercial boat docks (13 of which are marinas) and collects approximately $413,570 per year for those licenses.  Revenues collected from boat dock licenses are used to offset the cost to SJRA of permitting and inspecting new boat docks, ensuring compliance of existing boat docks, billing and collection of boat dock fees, overall administration of the program, and contribution towards maintenance of the dam and related facilities.

 

SJRA RESIDENTIAL IRRIGATION CONTRACTS:  SJRA has historically provided a Landscape Irrigation License that allows lakefront property owners to use water from Lake Conroe for the sole purpose of landscape irrigation.  The annual fee for this license is $150 and billings were mailed this month.  The State of Texas requires anyone that diverts water from a State reservoir to enter into such a contract or permit.  In February, 2014, SJRA mailed ALL lakefront property owners a notice informing them of this license requirement and asked that they complete the Water Diversion Form for Private Landscape Irrigation if they intended to divert any water during the upcoming year starting May 1.  SJRA has 686 licensed residential irrigation contracts and collects approximately $102,900 per year for those licenses.  Although the license does not restrict the annual quantity of water you may divert, SJRA has notified licensees that it may require a meter to be installed to measure the quantity of water you divert and reserves the right to implement a tiered rate system based on the quantity of water diverted in the future.

 

SJRA WATER CONSERVATION PLAN:  SJRA has adopted a Water Conservation Plan and Drought Contingency Plan that addresses access to water provided by SJRA based on fluctuating lake levels on Lake Conroe.  SJRA currently sells water out of Lake Conroe to residential and industrial customers located in Montgomery County and, upon completion of its Surface Water Treatment Facility and Transmission System, will be selling potable water throughout Montgomery County.  These Plans will limit the quantity of water sold from Lake Conroe based on lake levels.  As lake levels decrease due to seasonal fluctuations, droughts or disasters, SJRA will implement restrictions on the quantity of water delivered.  More specific information on the Plans (and related lake levels) will be summarized in a future LCA President’s Update and can be further reviewed by visiting SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net.

 

SJRA LAKE CONROE WATERSHED PROTECTION PLAN:  With the construction of SJRA’s Surface Water Treatment Facility and Transmission System to be completed in 2015, water from Lake Conroe will now be used for human consumption.  More than ever, the quality of water in Lake Conroe must be maintained at a high level.  SJRA has assembled a Stakeholder Group of approximately 22 volunteers to develop a Watershed Protection Plan over the next twelve (12) months.  Through monthly meetings, this group will discuss topics to include septic discharge, storm sewer run-off, agricultural run-off, bulkheading, riparian buffer zones, dredging, water quality testing, and any number of related topics which affect Lake Conroe’s water quality.  Representatives from many walks-of-life have been assembled to present views from a variety of perspectives and knowledge.  Examples of Stakeholders include realtors, ranchers, marina owners, Public Works Directors, foresters, law enforcement, MUD’s, Community Health Services Directors, forest rangers, anglers, Chamber of Commerce, Planning & Development Directors, dredging/bulkheading companies, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and local organizations.

 

PURCHASING WATER TO MAINTAIN LAKE CONROE LAKE LEVELS:  While Lake Conroe has almost reached “full pool”, many residents and businesses are concerned about fluctuating lake levels in our future.  Many question “Why can’t we buy water from somewhere to keep Lake Conroe full at all times?”  As this is an enormous topic, I will share just a couple of thoughts for your consideration.  First, the question would be “Who is the WE” in “Why can’t WE buy water”?  Is the “WE” SJRA, Montgomery County, City of Conroe, State of Texas, Federal Government or you?  There is no budget in any of these entities to cover such a cost today.  Second, a question would be “How much could the water cost?”  Using round numbers, we’ll assume Lake Conroe to be 22,000 surface acres and the cost of raw water today to be $100 per acre foot (“acre foot” being the amount of water covering one square acre at one foot deep).  Using this information, raising Lake Conroe by one foot would cost 22,000 surface acres times $100 per acre foot, or $2.2 million.  While very simplified, I believe you will quickly see the dilemma.  Any creative suggestions to the solution would be encouraged and greatly appreciated.

 

STATUS OF SJRA WATER TREATMENT FACILITY AND TRANSMISSION SYSTEM:  As of March 31, 2014, the Water Treatment Facility was 51% complete at a cost of $97,362,711 and the Transmission System (pipelines) was 45% complete at a cost of $66,361,818.  The estimated cost of Phase 1 of this project (capable of serving our needs through 2025) totals $490 million.

 

WHEN WILL SJRA START TAKING WATER FROM LAKE CONROE?:  The Water Treatment Facility and Transmission System is estimated to be ready for initial testing by June, 2015.  Assuming all testing goes as planned, SJRA estimates that it would start to deliver treated water from Lake Conroe by September 1, 2015.  SJRA will remove the same quantity of water from Lake Conroe each day throughout the year, or approximately 1/32 of an inch per day.  Seasonal fluctuations in water use will be satisfied by adjusting the amount of water delivered via water wells drilled into the Jasper Aquifer (i.e. limited water from the Jasper in Winter when water use is low and much greater water from the Jasper in Summer when water use is high).

 

LCA MEMBERSHIP:  Until the LCA needs additional funds for a “project”, we will not invoice our Members for dues.  Of course, donations are accepted and appreciated at any time.  Individual memberships in the LCA are typically billed at $100 per year.  The LCA is a 501 (c) 3 Not-For-Profit Organization and donations are generally tax deductible.  For more information about the LCA, visit our website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND ENJOY THE SUMMER TO COME.

 

AND DON’T FORGET TO VOTE ON MAY 27, 2014!!

 

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

President’s Update Nov 17, 2013

LCA President’s Update
November 17, 2013

I could begin this LCA President’s Update in many ways, but recent rainfall and how much better our lake looks seems to be the conversation I hear most. How magnificent that Mother Nature finally decided to bless us with a substantial rain event while also not injuring people or damaging property in the process. We had a beautiful, steady rain that just had to bring a smile to your face. With Lake Conroe currently at a level of 198.89, or only 2.11 feet down from “normal pool”, we’re within reach of “normal pool” of 201.0 with one more steady rain. A brief summary of our rain event follows:
Rainfall at dam site Lake Level at 9AM
————————– ————————
October 27 1.24 inches 197.26 feet
October 30 2.12 inches 197.5 feet
October 31 1.80 inches 198.4 feet
November 1 198.82 feet
November 2 198.98 feet
November 7 199.02 feet
November 21 198.89 feet

For those more skeptical of a rain event ever filling Lake Conroe, just remember that in the 29 days ended November 10, 2006, the lake rose from an elevation of 196.68 to 201.27 (or 4.59 feet)!

The last date on which water was released at the dam by SJRA was May 21, 2010.

2013 WAS A SLOW YEAR AT LCA:
2013 proved to be rather uneventful for the Lake Conroe Association (LCA). While we gathered information on lake-related, local topics of interest to keep informed, no singular issue demanded significant time or funding. The LCA Board held only six (6) Board Meetings during 2013 with limited agenda topics to discuss. We elected to avoid a Fund Raising Campaign for the 3rd consecutive year based on maintaining adequate cash balances, keeping our expenses to a bare minimum, and not identifying any projects requiring a large cash payment. A summary of 2013 topics follows.

AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT:
By far and away the single largest topic covered during my nine (9) years as LCA President has been the control of aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe. We all remember the menacing Hydrilla Infestation from 2006 to 2008 which, at its height, covered over 2,050 surface acres (or 10% of the lake’s surface) and threatened to destroy all boating activity, lake enjoyment, and lake-related businesses. To a lesser but still significant level, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia likewise threatened to choke out Lake Conroe’s waterways. Thanks to the combined efforts of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the LCA, sufficient personnel and financial resources were contributed to correct the problem. But the “THANKS” don’t stop there. Without the generosity of our LCA Members who contributed over $600,000 to the LCA for Aquatic Plant Management, we could have never succeeded in taking our lake back from the invasive plants.

TPWD has just completed its 2013 Lake Conroe Vegetation Survey and reports a very healthy Lake Conroe. As of October 31, 2013, TPWD reports the following: Hydrilla (Only a few scattered sprigs in very shallow water), Water Hyacinth (No mats but significant scattered plants especially in Caney Creek), Giant Salvinia (Almost none), and Native Vegetation (A few hundred acres of native emergent plants consisting of about a 4 foot wide band in 2 feet or less of water around the National Forest. This was before the recent rains. Considering what was on the shoreline, we probably have 500 acres or more of native emergent vegetation in the water now). Where nominal infestations have occurred during 2013, TPWD and SJRA have treated the areas with aquatic herbicides to control any outbreaks. No White Amur Grass Carp have been added to Lake Conroe since February, 2008 as the Hydrilla infestation has been reduced to small, juvenile patches in upper lake streams where treatment applications are difficult. Should you identify any of these invasive plants near your shoreline or while out boating, please report the location to Mark Webb of TPWD (mark.webb@tpwd.texas.gov), Jordan Austin of SJRA (jaustin@sjra.net) or the LCA (www.lakeconroeassociation.com). If you are able to include a photograph with your e-mail, it helps to make a more certain plant identification.

ZEBRA MUSSELS:
Zebra Mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that can spread by hitching a ride on boats and trailers. They grow to about 1 ½ inches and develop a distinctive zebra-striped shell. One Zebra Mussel can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. They can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage such as:
• Encrusting and adding weight to boat hulls; clogging water systems used in boat motors, air conditioners and heads
• Threatening our water supply by colonizing inside pipelines, restricting the flow of water, and damaging water intake structures which results in higher water bills for homes and businesses
• Taking over habitats from native species, damaging lake ecology and impacting fish populations

To date, Zebra Mussels have been identified in the following Texas waters: Lake Texoma, Belton Lake, Stillhouse Hollow, Leon River, Lampasas River, Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Roberts, and Lake Lavon. The most current information on Zebra Mussels can be reviewed on TPWD’s website at www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels.

TPWD’s campaign to fight the spread of Zebra Mussels includes a policy of CLEAN, DRY and DRAIN all surfaces to which a Zebra Mussel or its larvae could attach itself. This typically includes exterior watercraft hulls, motors, bilges, livewells, and bait buckets. A new prospect identified for transporting Zebra Mussel larvae is wakeboard ballast bladders.

It is ILLEGAL to transport Zebra Mussels – knowingly or unknowingly in the State of Texas. The law imposes a fine of up to $500 for the first incident (a Class C misdemeanor), and steeper fines with possible jail time, for subsequent offenses.

The LCA considered a campaign in 2013 to stencil warnings onto the actual concrete or paved launch surface at each public boat launch on Lake Conroe at a cost of $1,700 per location but, in the end, felt the monies were not an adequate deterrent compared to the $30,000+ pricetag. Further, we felt the spread of Zebra Mussels needed to be focused at the infestation sites – meaning those Texas lakes and rivers where Zebra Mussels had already been identified. TPWD has an active signage campaign at those infested locations to inform boaters of the danger and penalty of transporting Zebra Mussels, and has extended that signage campaign to include all Texas lakes. You will see this signage at most Lake Conroe public boat launches.

We have included a brief LCA flyer that hopes to draw attention to the Zebra Mussel problem. It should be noted that Zebra Mussels have not been identified “IN” Lake Conroe yet, but more than one vessel trying to be launched into Lake Conroe has been stopped prior to launching due to Marina self-inspections identifying a Zebra Mussel infestation on or in that vessel. Please do your part when launching a boat or jet ski into Lake Conroe that has visited another body of water…and inspect the vessel before launching anywhere. Be sure your friends and relatives are aware of the law and boat clean-up program before they launch in any public fresh waters. There are currently over 600 Zebra Mussel-infected lakes in the U.S.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:
The Annual Meeting of the LCA and its election of our Board of Directors occurs on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 11AM at the SJRA Meeting Room off Highway 105 on Dam Site road. We will be mailing proxies to our Members in approximately two (2) weeks for election of our 2014 Board. I am pleased to have worked with all six (6) LCA Directors who have volunteered their time for a minimum of nine (9) consecutive years now. If you run into one of them, please acknowledge the contributions of Ben Richardson (Palms Marina and EZ Boat Storage), Tom Butz (Bentwater), Jim Pohoski (Rancho Escondido), Rich Cutler (Shelter Bay), Gene Colbert (Bentwater) and Gene Barrington (Del Lago). For anyone interested, we always welcome individuals who would like to volunteer and join our LCA Board.

NO 2014 LCA FUND RAISING:
As we do not anticipate an “event” in 2014 requiring significant cash, the LCA Board has decided that a LCA Fund Raising Campaign is NOT necessary at this time. Any individual or business currently considered “a Member” will have that designation extended through 2014. We are operating on the assumption that, if a significant event occurred that required further finances, a future letter requesting contributions would be favorably received. In the past, our Members have always generously risen to the occasion when a request was made. Of course, contributions made payable to the “Lake Conroe Association” are always accepted at Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, TX 77378. As a Section 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, your contributions to the LCA should be tax-deductible.

LCA PRESENTATION ON WATER AND LAKE LEVELS:
I am currently editing a LCA presentation on local water geography, rainfall, lake levels and the future SJRA Water Treatment Facility. Ever since the 2010 Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) announcement that aquifer use must be reduced by thirty percent (30%) from 2009 usage levels and SJRA’s announcement that a Water Treatment Facility would be constructed to utilize waters from Lake Conroe to meet the water demands of Montgomery County, people have expressed grave concerns over effects on Lake Conroe lake levels. As a lakefront property owner myself, I joined the list of those concerned and elected to become more involved in this topic. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be appointed by Governor Perry to the Board of the San Jacinto River Authority and have become far more “educated” on this topic. I regularly hear repetitive questions from friends and LCA Members regarding water, in general, and thought it best to prepare some form of presentation on those frequently asked questions. With the help of the LCA Board and significant information contributions from SJRA Managers and staff, the LCA will be prepared to hold its first public presentation within two (2) months. The intent is to schedule meetings through sub-division POA’s or HOA’s. I’d imagine that the presentation will evolve as attendees ask questions and present suggestions. More information will follow soon.

SENATOR NICHOLS TO SPEAK:
I have been asked by the Lake Conroe Community Network (LCCN) to pass along that they have engaged Senator Robert Nichols to speak at the Walden Yacht Club on December 4, 2013 at 6:30PM. Senator Nichols has been most instrumental in representing the needs of Montgomery County and eighteen (18) surrounding counties. He will speak on what was accomplished during the last Legislative Session and on the recently passed Propositions. We all desire to show Senator Nichols how much we value his service, and hope you will show your support by generating a large turnout for this event. For further information, please contact Bill Marshall at bncfarm@consolidated.net.

YES, I’M FINALLY DONE:
Thanks so much for reading another long LCA President’s Update. Once I get started, it’s hard for me to stop writing as I’m very passionate about our Lake Conroe community and the whole of Montgomery County. Should you have questions or comments, you can communicate through the LCA website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com or my personal web address at parmgb@aol.com. Congratulations on being part of the best lake community in Texas!

LCA President’s Update

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE
May 24, 2013

Hello to all!  I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, flowers blooming and boating activity on Lake Conroe.  I hope your allergies are reasonably in check.  I hope the next storm sits over Lake Conroe and significantly raises our lake levels.  We can dream, can’t we?

Here’s a brief update on the LCA and lake happenings:

LAKE LEVEL:  198.37 (or 2.63 feet down)

WHY IS THE LAKE LEVEL DOWN SO MUCH?  To simplify, it’s called a “drought”.  The last date on which Lake Conroe was at “full pool” (201.0 feet) was May 21, 2010.  No water has been released over the dam since that date.  Here are a few rainfall statistics:

***May 21 to Dec 31, 2010…..normal rainfall 29”, actual rainfall 29”

***Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2011…..normal rainfall 48”, actual rainfall 21” (shortfall 27”)

***Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2012…..normal rainfall 48”, actual rainfall 46” (shortfall 2”)

***Jan 1 to May 13, 2013…..normal rainfall 18”, actual rainfall 9” (shortfall 9”)

Aside from the shortfall on rain totals, less rain means less “run-off”.  Statistically, for every inch of rain we receive, another 7/4” flows into the lake as “run-off”.  Accordingly, we get more water into Lake Conroe from “run-off” rather than from rain falling directly into the lake.

Additionally, we incur approximately 4 feet per year of evaporation out of Lake Conroe.

Finally, during the drought of 2011, the City of Houston withdrew approximately 30” of water from Lake Conroe for City of Houston water needs.

ZEBRA MUSSELS:  The newest problem child for Texas lake ecosystems is the Zebra Mussel.  Biologists say they have found Zebra Mussels in the Trinity River in Denton County, less than a year after the invasive species was discovered in Lake Ray Roberts and three years since discovered in Lake Texoma.  This is first time any have been found in a Texas river.

Zebra Mussels are dangerous to Texas’ waters because they are too efficient at cleaning and filtering the water.  They pull particles, algae and microscopic plants out of the water (particularly organic matter) which is the basis of the food chain for fresh water ecosystems.  Lacking these nutrients, aquatic plants and fish cannot survive.  As go aquatic plants and fish, so go native lake wildlife.

Zebra Mussels clog water intake pipes and must be mechanically removed because these mussel shells attach themselves very tightly to the pipes.  This could create a significant problem in the Trinity River as that’s a major source of water for the area.  Should Zebra Mussels make their way into Lake Conroe, potentially clogged intake pipes would not bode well for the under-construction water treatment plant at the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) dam site.

Zebra Mussels harm boats and motors left in infested waters, and the razor sharp edges of their shells can injure swimmers and animals in the water.

Officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) say the species can be spread from lake to lake by boaters who don’t properly clean their watercraft and empty their bait wells and bilges between lakes.  The department launched a public education campaign last year to encourage lake users to clean, drain and dry their boats, trailers and gear.  The LCA is currently working with TPWD, SJRA and angling organizations to promote a more extensive education program on Lake Conroe including signage and boat launch stencils to inform lake users of this serious problem.

The LCA is personally aware of two (2) instances already on Lake Conroe where a boat was trailered to Lake Conroe and its owner attempted to launch the vessel into Lake Conroe.  Thanks to diligent observation by two marina operators, the Zebra Mussels were identified prior to the vessel being launched and the vessels were restricted from entry into Lake Conroe until sufficient clean-up (including flushing and chlorinating the bilge and cooling systems) was performed.  It is against the law to have water in your bilges or bait buckets from another lake; and it is now an offense of $500 for transporting lake water from one Texas water body to another for the first offense, and jail time for the third offense.

More information on the LCA’s efforts in keeping the Zebra Mussel from entering and impacting Lake Conroe will be released soon.  Until then, please be aware that there is currently no predator or effective chemical control available for this invasive species.  The TPWD slogan “Hello Zebra Mussels, Goodbye Texas Lakes” states the severity of problem, so please inform your boating guests of the issue and be on the alert for any possible violations.

AQUATIC VEGETATION:  Lake Conroe is currently in excellent shape as it relates to invasive and native vegetation.  Invasive vegetation such as Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia are recorded at negligible levels.  Native vegetation is on the rebound after much effort by TPWD, SJRA and local angling organizations such as the Seven Coves Bass Club to purchase and plant native vegetation into Lake Conroe, and such helpful vegetation appears to be reproducing as intended.  An annual survey of lake vegetation will be performed by TPWD in the Summer and, subsequently, meetings held amongst TPWD, SJRA, angling organizations and the LCA to discuss its findings and suggested action items for the future.  Included in those meetings will be a discussion of White Amur grass carp populations and potential re-stockings.

LCA FUND RAISING 2013:  As you may be aware, the LCA has not held a fund raising campaign since 2010.  That successful campaign, held primarily to fund the purchase of White Amur grass carp to combat Hydrilla, sustained the LCA’s operations over the past 3 years.  As we initiate efforts to educate on the dangers of Zebra Mussels and provide significant signage throughout Lake Conroe’s marina and boat launch businesses, and as we prepare to fund potential re-stockings of grass carp (ultimate decisions made by TPWD), the LCA sees the need to raise monies and be prepared to fund requests on a timely basis.   Information will follow shortly on the specifics of a LCA Fund Raising Campaign for 2013.

MIKE BLEIER’S NEW POSITION:  I’d like to share my latest endeavor.  I was fortunate enough to be appointed to a position on the SJRA Board of Directors effective yesterday.  The process includes submitting an application to Governor Perry’s Appointments Office, obtaining endorsements from State Senators and Montgomery County elected officials, completing interviews and the “vetting” process, and obtaining approvals by both Governor Perry and the Texas Senate.  I am very excited to contribute my time to the needs of our community, County and, specifically, the San Jacinto River Authority.  I hope to make valuable contributions to SJRA and its Board.  Having discussed potential conflicts of interest between my position as LCA President and the SJRA Board with the Appointments Office, LCA Board and SJRA General Manager, any possible monetary conflict of interest will be avoided by recusing myself from voting on the issue at both the LCA and SJRA Board Meetings.  I very much appreciate the support of those who have assisted me in this appointment and shown confidence in my ability to contribute.

For more information about the LCA and local lake topics of interest, please visit www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  Should you desire to contact me with questions or comments, I can be reached at www.lakeconroeassociation.com as well.  Wishing you and yours a safe, enjoyable lake experience throughout 2013.

LCA President’s Update

LCA President’s Update

October 3, 2012

We hope you have enjoyed a beautiful, safe Summer and are now looking forward to some cooler Fall weather.  We wanted to provide you with a brief update on happenings within our lake community just to stay “in touch”.  In no order of significance:

LAKE LEVEL:  198.27 (relative to “normal pool elevation” of 201.0….2.73 feet down)

INVASIVE PLANTS:  With Texas Parks & Wildlife having completed their annual end of Summer vegetation survey at Lake Conroe, we are pleased to report only 0.1 acres of Hydrilla (with approximately 20,000 White Amur Grass Carp still alive).  It is not anticipated that additional White Amur will be added in 2012 or 2013 but, as the White Amur continue to die off, a maintenance stocking of White Amur will be provided annually to keep Hydrilla at a minimal level.  Very little Giant Salvinia and only 34 acres of Water Hyacinth were discovered, and both have been treated with aquatic herbicides since the survey completion.

NATIVE PLANTS:  There was great concern over the reduction of native vegetation in Lake Conroe to only 150 acres by 2010.  Native vegetation in a necessary component in our lake ecosystem, and it was dramatically reduced by the White Amur introduced to control Hydrilla.  Through efforts by Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Seven Coves Bass Club, native plants have been added to Lake Conroe in protective cages to facilitate re-population of native plants along our shorelines.  Further, lower lake levels have permitted certain woody plants to take hold in shallow waters.  The recent Texas Parks & Wildlife survey concluded that 1,835 acres of native vegetation occupy Lake Conroe.  This is good news for residents and anglers alike.  We believe all involved parties (Texas Parks & Wildlife, San Jacinto River Authority, Lake Conroe Association and angling organizations) have a better understanding of how to balance the control of invasive plants such as Hydrilla, maintenance of native vegetation and future quantities of White Amur.

2012 LCA ACTIVITIES:  With Hydrilla currently under control, no monies were expended by the LCA for the control of invasive vegetation in 2012.  We were primarily involved in two activities in 2012.  First, we followed through to completion the issuance of the Texas A&M Report entitled “Impact of Lake-Level Reductions on Lake Conroe Area:  Lake Area Property Values, Property Tax Revenues and Sales Tax Revenues” which is discussed below and, for which, we expended $69,000 of the $152,000 total cost.  Second, we funded $29,000 of the total $39,000 cost to remove approximately 450 stumps from the main body of Lake Conroe.  This project was endorsed by members of the Lake Conroe Advisory Committee (Texas Parks & Wildlife, San Jacinto River Authority, Lake Conroe Association and angling organizations) for the improved safety of boating and related activities on Lake Conroe.

SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY SURFACE WATER TREATMENT FACILITIES:  As part of Groundwater Protection Plan to reduce the use of water from the Jasper Aquifer (which currently supplies all of our water for Montgomery County), construction of the treatment facilities at the Lake Conroe dam commenced August 1, 2012.  The facilities are expected to be completed in mid-2015 at an estimated cost of $190 million.  All facets of the project will be up and running before the January 1, 2016 deadline set by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.

CATAHOULA AQUIFER UPDATE:  Having drilled successful test wells (some of which are already operational) into the Catahoula Aquifer, concerns existed over whether removal of water from the Catahoula Aquifer could diminish water levels in the Jasper Aquifer.  In a model study presented to the Lone Star Conservation District by independent hydrologists from LBG_Guyton Associates, in was concluded that use of the Catahoula Aquifer would have little effect on the Jasper Aquifer.

WATER CONSERVATION PROJECT:  Region H and the Texas Water Foundation have initiated a project to quantify and measure the ongoing water conservation efforts in the region.  Region H of the State Water Plan consists of all or part of 15 counties, including Montgomery.  Obviously, we need water to sustain our current population and its projected growth.  The project allows participants to use information to track the implementation, water savings, costs and benefits of actual conservation activities over time.  The City of Conroe has agreed to help fund the project with a total of $6,000 over the next two years.  Further, Region H’s plan calls for an additional water supply of 1.5 million acre feet by 2060 and five new major reservoirs to meet some of that demand.

TEXAS A&M STUDY ON “IMPACT OF LAKE-LEVEL REDUCTIONS ON LAKE CONROE AREA”:  The Texas A&M Study contracted by Montgomery County, coordinated by the Lake Conroe Communities Network and principally funded by the Lake Conroe Association has been completed and published.  A copy of the complete report can be accessed through our LCA website www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  While by no means a complete summary of the Study, I have listed some key points of interest in my opinion as follows:

  • Lake levels are expected to fall more than 4 feet below full pool (201.0 feet) 1.6 times more often between 2016 and 2026 compared to today, and 8.5 times more often by 2046.
  • Lake levels more than 4 feet below full pool occurred only 2.8% of the time in the history of the lake.  With the implementation of the Groundwater Protection Plan, lake levels are expected to fall more than 4 feet below full pool as follows:  2016-2026….4.6% of the time, 2026-2036….7.9% of the time, 2036-2046…12.7% of the time, and beyond 2046….22.0% of the time.
  • For each foot of lake level decline beyond the first 2 feet, the City of Montgomery decreases retail trade revenue by $1.6 million per year per foot.
  • Direct economic impacts of lake level fluctuations occur primarily in the geographic area closest to the lake and most directly associated with retail trade activities.
  • In many ways, the future of Lake Conroe is the future of Montgomery County.  Lake Conroe has a major role in the local economy and real estate values.  Lake Conroe plays a critical role in tourism and recreation, providing natural habitat for the fishery and waterfowl populations.  And now under the GRP, it is expected to contribute to the consumable water supply in Montgomery County.
  • The costs of using water from Lake Conroe will be borne ultimately by county residents and businesses in increased local taxes (presumably to pay for bonds for construction), increased water rates, and potentially reduced real estate values near the lake.
  • Gradual sedimentation is reducing the lake volume.  Upon lake construction in 1974, lake volume approximated 430,260 acre feet.  Current volume is estimated to be 406,660 acre feet and, by 2045, the volume is estimated to be reduced to 384,975 acre feet (or 10.5%).
  • Once utilizing water from Lake Conroe under the GRP, future droughts will result in more frequent drops in lake levels, lower lake levels, and levels will remain low for longer periods compared to the same size drought in the past.

I’m sorry for reaching a third page of text, but I just couldn’t decide where to reduce content.  I congratulate you for reaching the end!  On behalf of the entire Board of the Lake Conroe Association, thank you for your continued support and we wish you happiness and health through this Fall season.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

We’re hoping our LCA Members are enjoying 2011 and dealing with the multitude of extreme weather conditions being thrown at us by Mother Nature.  We’ve seen repeated record temperatures throughout June and an extended drought that has browned our grasses, damaged our trees and dropped our lake level more than three (3) feet.  Would you like some good news from your friends at the Lake Conroe Association?

 First, invasive weeds such as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth are well under control on Lake Conroe.  The primary activity of the LCA since its inception in 1977 has been the review of invasive weeds on Lake Conroe and organizing funding raising activities to raise private money for the control of those invasive weeds.  Thanks to the generosity of our donors, monies contributed by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), and time invested by a combination of the LCA, SJRA and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, we find our reservoir to be virtually invasive weed-free at this time.  This certainly beats a 2008 which saw infestations of Hydrilla at 2,052 surface acres, Giant Salvinia of 628 surface acres and Water Hyacinth of 68 surface acres.  To fund this effective reduction of invasive weeds, our donors contributed in excess of $600,000 and SJRA “matched” this $600,000 in donations.  The primary use of these funds was the purchase of 123,765 White Amur Grass Carp to combat the explosive growth of Hydrilla.  It is estimated that 32,000 White Amur Grass Carp remain alive in Lake Conroe today.

Second, the study being conducted by Texas A&M University to review the economic and social impact of reducing lake levels on Lake Conroe is more than 50% complete at this time and should be completed by the end of 2011.  An important survey measuring Montgomery County resident opinions on reducing lake levels will be mailed out within the next month to 1 out of every 10 households within a 4 mile radius of Lake Conroe.  Should you receive this survey, please do your best to complete and return the survey on a timely basis as your opinion counts!  Our LCA donors contributed $66,000 towards the total study cost of $142,000.  The LCA believes the study will support our opinion that lowering lake levels (due to the ever-increasing water use in Montgomery County) will negatively affect our local economy and property values, and that alternative water sources for our County should be explored immediately.

Third, we’re NOT asking you for money this year!  We are all aware of how a slowing economy, budget shortfalls and increasing unemployment have hurt so many families and friends.  In light of how important a dollar is to everyone, the LCA Board of Directors has elected to pass on soliciting funds through our Annual LCA Membership Campaign and decided to extend 2011 LCA Membership to all 2010 donors.  We believe our current balance (checking account plus certificates of deposit) is sufficient to meet our financial needs for the upcoming year and see no need to request money from you at this time.   Of course, should an unforeseen emergency occur in 2011 in our community which falls under the objectives of the LCA, we would initiate a fund raiser specific to that cause.  We anticipate renewing our Annual LCA Membership Campaign again in 2012.   For any newcomers interested in joining the LCA or for current LCA Members preferring to make a tax-deductible donation in 2011, donations to our Section 501(c) (3) non-profit organization can be mailed to:  Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas  77378.  By our mission statement, the LCA “acts as a civic organization for the purpose of over-seeing, directing, initiating and promulgating programs that directly affect the control, use, and enjoyment of Lake Conroe for the benefit of Montgomery County, Texas.”

With a current lake level of 197.71 feet (over 3 feet below average pool elevation 201.0) and 2011 rainfall totals of only 6 inches (compared to an average 24 inches of rain by this date), we all look forward to some extended rain showers to replenish our reservoir, feed our grasses, plants and trees, and drop our temperatures.  We can all hope, can’t we?  We wish you and your families an enjoyable and prosperous summer of 2011.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Wrapping up 2011, it’s been a year unlike any other in Lake Conroe’s 37-year history and record breaking for Montgomery County and most of the State of Texas.  We were parched by record temperatures for most of our Summer and Fall, and the state-wide drought created problems not seen since the 1950’s.  Our poor little Lake Conroe saw record low lake levels, and these low levels have frustrated boaters, fishermen, local businesses, our real estate community and elected officials of City, County and State government.  Cooler temperatures and recent rainfall have become reason for higher spirits, but our dying trees and lingering low lake levels remind us each day of a year most are pleased see come to an end.

Topics concerning Lake Conroe and the LCA follow:

1.      LCA ANNUAL MEETING: Our LCA Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, January 20, 2012 at the dam site offices off Highway 105 of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) at 10AM in the Lake Conroe Conference Room.  In conjunction with this Annual Meeting, a Meeting Agenda and Voting Proxy will be mailed to our LCA Members next week.  The Voting Proxy allows Members to vote by mail on the election of 2012 LCA Directors and also recommends a change to our LCA Bylaws permitting voting by e-mail in 2013 (as a means to conserve funds currently spent on the cost of mailing envelopes, return envelopes and postage).  We are pleased that all nine (9) LCA 2011 Directors have offered to volunteer their time for 2012 in the same capacity, if re-elected by our Members.

  1. 2.      LAKE LEVEL DATA:  After the generous rainfall we experienced over the past two weeks, our landscape may be happier but our lake level remains at a dismal level of 192.79 as of today…..8 feet,3 inches below normal pool.  These lake levels reflect the lowest levels in the history of the Lake.   The City of Houston reduced its daily withdrawl rate from 165 MILLION GALLONS to 60 MILLION GALLONS as of November 28, 2011 and, on November 30, stopped withdrawing altogether.  The City of Houston has withdrawn an estimated 48,654 acre feet (or 15.8 BILLION GALLONS) between August 16, 2011 and today (approximately 2.6 feet of water over our lake’s surface).  The City of Houston can still withdraw an estimated 18,013 acre feet (or 5.9 BILLION GALLONS) before December 31, 2011 under its 2011 allotment provided under its contract with SJRA.
  2. 3.      CATAHOULA AQUIFER:  As you are most likely aware, SJRA will initiate its Groundwater Reduction Plan (“GRP”) in 2016 by removing approximately 1 foot of water per year from Lake Conroe to assist with meeting the ever-growing water demands of Montgomery County.  Some success has been achieved by identifying and testing water located in the Catahoula Aquifer below portions of Montgomery County.  Montgomery County has always pumped water from the Jasper Aquifer, and possible use of water from the Catahoula Aquifer (never utilized before) could supplement our water supply and possibly reduce the demand of water from Lake Conroe.  Currently, 3 wells have been drilled into the Catahoula Aquifer in Montgomery County (at Bentwater, April Sound and Panorama) and testing is underway to determine the feasibility of use of the Catahoula for our future.  For an extensive discussion of the Catahoula Aquifer, you can visit the Lake Conroe Community Network’s website at www.lakeconroecn.com or SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net.
  3. 4.      TEXAS A&M LAKE LEVEL STUDY:  The $152,000 study commissioned by Montgomery County (of which the LCA paid $69,000) and coordinated by Lake Conroe Community Network has had its completion date pushed back.  Texas A&M University was engaged to review the effects of removing water from Lake Conroe as part of SJRA’s GRP (referenced above).  Of particular concern are future lake levels, potentially reduced sales tax and property tax collections by Montgomery County, and effects on real estate values and local businesses.  A November 7, 2011 Public Meeting summarizing findings-to-date was postponed to give Texas A&M further time to gather complete information.  It is expected that the Public Meeting will be held sometime in March, 2012.
  4. 5.      LCA DUES FOR 2012:  As you may recall, the LCA waived its dues requirements for LCA Members for the year May, 2011 through April, 2012.  This decision was based on our overall suffering economy, the LCA’s current cash balance, and the LCA’s projected cash needs for that year.  Not envisioning large cash demands on the LCA in the coming year, the LCA Board currently plans to waive the collection of dues for the coming year May, 2012 through April, 2013.  We do this confident that, should a significant event occur in the next year needing extensive contributions from the LCA for the benefit of our lake community, our Members would respond positively to an emergency fund raising campaign to secure needed monies.  You would, right?
  5. 6.      DRIVING A VEHICLE IN THE DRY LAKE BED:  Lake Conroe has an imaginary line dividing the southern 2/3 of Lake Conroe (enforcement governed by SJRA) from the northern 1/3 of Lake Conroe (enforcement governed by the Texas Forest Service).  For those familiar with the northern portion of Lake Conroe, Scott’s Ridge Public Boat Launch and Campgrounds denotes the beginning of that portion of the lake under Texas Forest Service enforcement.  In the northern 1/3, vehicles are prohibited from operation in the dry lake bed.  In the southern 2/3, specific regulations have not been developed to preclude use of a vehicle in the dry lake bed.  Should SJRA encounter significant problems created by vehicle use, they reserve the right to modify this policy.  In general, the objective is to protect emerging grasses and the environmentally sensitive lake bed.  As an example, driving around in 4-wheeler doing “donuts” in front of someone’s property would not be viewed favorably nor environmentally conservative by SJRA.  I’d say the simple rule would be “Use some common sense.”
  6. 7.      “CLEANING” THE DRY LAKE BED:  Removing loose trash from the dry lake bed such as bottles, cans, life preservers, tires, and miscellaneous man-made stuff is acceptable to both SJRA and the Texas Forest Service.   SJRA has stated that cutting tall vegetation directly in front of your boat dock which would impede use of your boat (if we had water) is acceptable.  Without advance permission, the cutting of/removal of tree stumps or the removal of fishing “spider blocks” (concrete blocks with steel or aluminum pipes protruding from them as to resemble a brush pile or fallen tree) are not permitted.  If you find something you think may be a “spider block”, SJRA has offered to accumulate a list of locations where “spider blocks” are found and, subsequently, tow them into deeper water (at no cost to the homeowner) for use of fishermen in deeper waters where a boat prop or swimmer will not be harmed.  If in question about removing something, I’d contact SJRA at 936-588-1111 and ask for Bret Raley.
  7. 8.      PUBLIC BOAT LAUNCHES IN SERVICE:  Without having conducted a complete search of the entire lake, we can tell you that the following locations are reported to still have enough water to launch your boat.  The LCA has not visited these locations and cannot report specific water depths.  If interested, I’d place a phone call to the facility prior to towing your boat to any location…and make a safe decision on your own.  Those locations include Cagle Recreational Area, EZ Boat Storage, Lake View Marina, Palms Marina and Stow-Away Marina.  Updates on launch site openings and closures can be reviewed at SJRA’s website (www.sjra.net).
  8. 9.      REMOVAL OF DANGEROUS STUMPS IN THE MAIN BODY OF LAKE CONROE:  In the spirit of contributing towards an enjoyable and safe boating experience on Lake Conroe, the LCA is reviewing the cost of contracting a company for the removal of specific tree stumps in the main body of the Lake.  To be clear, this is in the main body of the lake.  This does not pertain to coves off the main body of the Lake nor to any stumps in the northern 1/3 of Lake Conroe.  We have identified approximately 250 stumps by jet ski for consideration.  The potential contractor has met with SJRA to agree upon rules to be applied, and both SJRA and the contractor will have agreed upon the specific stumps to be removed and the disposal, if any, of the tree trunk debris.  No agreed-upon price has been settled nor any contract signed.  Again, it is in the spirit of providing a safe boating experience for our community that we have considered this request from our Members, and the LCA feels this falls under our purpose of “overseeing, directing, initiating, and promulgating programs that directly affect the control, use, and enjoyment of Lake Conroe for the benefit of any private member or shareholder”.
  9. 10.  DON’T SINK IN LAKE BED MUD:  While the dry lake bed may appear to be safe for an afternoon stroll, please exercise caution when approaching “the mud”.  I experienced a young woman this Sunday taking her dog for a walk in the dry lake bed when her journey took a foreseeable bad turn.  As she decided to venture off “the sand” and into “the mud”, she quickly began to sink…..first boots high, then knee high, then waist high, and finally chest high.  While our football-watching party of 40 or so found some level of entertainment in her poor choice, her predicament caused enough concern for us to call “911” for help.  Ultimately, she somehow pulled herself out of the muck before “911” emergency personnel arrived; but her clothes (and her pride) will never be the same again.  Please be careful out there. 

Thank you for sharing your time in reading this LCA President’s Update.  We hope you find the information helpful and informative.  Should you desire to learn more about the LCA, review previous correspondence with our Members, or provide feedback on this edition of LCA President’s Update, you can utilize our website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  Have a happy and safe Holiday Season, and we look forward to a wonderful 2012 !!

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY LAKE LEVEL SURVEY:

The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) has been working with Texas A&M University and Montgomery County to assess the impact of projected lake level fluctuations resulting from the San Jacinto River Authority’s (SJRA) Groundwater Reduction Plan.  Thanks to the generosity of LCA Members, the LCA was able to contribute $62,000 towards this $142,000 project.  Lake Conroe is certainly a treasured amenity for residents of Montgomery County, and reduced lake levels clearly impact use of the lake, local business success and residential property values.

Aside from evaluating engineering studies commissioned by SJRA to estimate the effects of removing water from Lake Conroe, an important element of the Texas A&M Study is a survey of local residents.  Texas A&M mailed invitations to participate in the Lake Conroe Survey in late July to a one-in-ten random sample of residents within four miles of the lake.  It is very important to respond so that A&M’s findings can incorporate our perspectives into estimates of the potential impact of the proposed SJRA Groundwater Reduction Plan.  These findings will help our leaders make choices that are sensitive to our perspectives and concerns as they address the serious water issues in our County.

(1)   If you are one of those who have already responded, thank you very much!

(2)   If you received an invitation but have not been able to respond, it’ not too late.  Go to the website (hrrc.arch.tamu.edu/lakeconroe) and enter your unique identifier from the post card you received in the mail.  If you’ve misplaced the post card, you can call the research team at Texas A&M at 979-845-7284 and they will be happy to get you started.

(3)   IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE SURVEY BUT DID NOT RECEIVE AN INVITATION, you can send your e-mail address to Dr. George Rogers of Texas A&M at GRogers@TAMU.edu with a “subject line” of “Lake Conroe Study”.  He will accumulate these and forward them to the research team to invite you to participate in an “interested parties” survey that is separate from the random sample.  This “interested parties” survey is your opportunity to share your perspectives and be heard.  The survey will ask for your street address so that the data can be geo-coded, and the address will be subsequently deleted to assure anonymity.

Usually, the LCA asks you to make a donation and WE do the work.  This time, we aren’t asking for money but, rather, a small amount of your time.  We can’t respond to a survey requesting YOUR opinions.  We REALLY need your participation at this time!  PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU!

WATER MEETING CALLED BY JUDGE SADLER:

I was asked to attend a water meeting yesterday by Montgomery County Judge Sadler.  Attendees included representatives from The City of Houston, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, SJRA, Region H Water Planning Committee, Montgomery County, The City of Conroe, Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) and various interested parties.  I thought you would appreciate an update of what I interpreted was presented in that meeting.  I list the following:

1)      Current lake level on Lake Conroe is 196.92 (normal pool is 201.0).  The lowest Lake Conroe has ever reached is a level of 196.

2)      The City of Houston started removing water from Lake Conroe on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.  The estimated rate of removal equates to approximately one half inch per day, or fifteen inches per month.  Without significant rainfall to modify their plans, The City of Houston expects to remove a total of three feet of water by the end of 2011.  As two thirds owner of Lake Conroe’s water supply, The City of Houston will pay nothing to SJRA for this water.

3)      The City of Houston’s contract with SJRA for water removal is based on a calendar year.  They can remove two thirds of 100,000 acre feet of water (or approximately 3 feet of water) in any calendar year.  Therefore, if significant rainfall does not modify their plans,  The City of Houston COULD start withdrawing water from Lake Conroe under its 2012 allotment starting January 1, 2012.  At one half inch per day, The City of Houston COULD remove another 3 feet of water from Lake Conroe by the end of March, 2012.  Since water use reduces during the Winter season, it would be more likely that The City of Houston removes that 3 feet of water by mid-2012 and not the end of March, 2012. 

4)      Summer evaporation rates approximate one third to one half inch per day, and total approximately 4 feet per year.

5)      While weather forecasters are certainly not always accurate, climatologists do not foresee significant rain for our area for the balance of 2011.  Further, with an estimated 50% accuracy, climatologists predict a 2012 drought similar to that we are experiencing in 2011.

6)      In big, round numbers, our lake level could reach a level of 190 (or eleven feet below normal pool) by the end of 2011.  The math used would be:  Current pool of 197… less 3 feet of water removed by The City of Houston… less 2 feet of water evaporated in the second half of Summer/Fall… less 1 ½ feet of water which could be sold by SJRA (their one third of 100,000 acre feet)… less ½ foot of water to account for the surface of Lake Conroe reducing as the water level drops (similar to a bowl….more surface at the top of the bowl and reducing surface as you approach the bottom of the bowl).

7)      Looking for the most time-effective solution to our water shortage, the individuals attending Judge Sadler’s meeting strongly encouraged immediately drilling further test wells into the Catahoula Aquifer.  Determining the quality and sustainability of this aquifer is of utmost importance in evaluating our water options.

8)      Judge Sadler also encouraged the Region H Water Planning Committee to move forward with evaluating the feasibility of building another reservoir in Montgomery County to supplement the waters of Lake Conroe.  Previous requests of this nature in 2010 were denied by Region H.  With Region H entering a new 5-year planning cycle beginning in 2012, Judge Sadler pointed out that ignoring this request for another 5 years would be unacceptable given water shortages across our area.

9)      Judge Sadler further requested that Region H provide a thorough financial review comparing the costs of all water options available to our County including a new reservoir, buying water from the Trinity River Authority and a host of other potential options.

10)  While only briefly discussed due to time constraints (priority topics were The City of Houston’s water withdrawl, projected lake levels, use of the Catahoula Aquifer, and Region H’s review of a new reservoir), other water topics of interest included conservation, water restrictions, use of treated effluent for golf course and residential irrigation, and mandatory use of treated effluent incorporated into the development of new communities for irrigation and water features.  

Thank you for your support of the Lake Conroe Association and your interest in our Lake Conroe community.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

On January 15, 2010, the Lake Conroe Association held its Annual Meeting at the San Jacinto River Authority’s office to summarize 2009 LCA activities for its members and elect the LCA Board for 2010.  Through proxies submitted by LCA members, you have chosen to re-elect the 2009 LCA Board to the 2010 LCA Board.  Your 2010 LCA Board consists of Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson and Sue Wheatley.  Upon being re-elected for 2010, the LCA Board then voted the following into office for 2010:  Mike Bleier, President; Ben Richardson, Vice President; Dawn Cleboski, Secretary; and Tom Butz, Treasurer.  We thank our LCA members for supporting us and I thank the LCA Board for volunteering their time for yet again another year of service.

 

To provide a brief summary of 2009 activities, I list the following:

  • ·          Dam repair from Hurricane Ike damage was commenced in January, 2009 and completed in April, 2009
  • ·          Due to the collective efforts of many, Hydrilla was reduced to 2 acres by January, 2009
  • ·          Water Hyacinth reduced from 68 acres in October, 2008 to 13 acres in July, 2009
  • ·          Giant Salvinia reduced from 628 acres in October, 2008 to 50 acres in July, 2009
  • ·          Native plants were planted in Lake Conroe during 2009 by the Seven Cove Bass Club and Texas Parks & Wildlife to replace some of the native vegetation eaten by the White Amur Grass Carp
  • ·          A “Water Summit” was held by Judge Sadler and invited local officials (not including the LCA) to discuss water issues for our County
  • ·          The LCA sent a Water Question & Answer Survey to over 19,000 local residents and businesses to get responses to fourteen questions about water issues in our County and lake levels on Lake Conroe.  Survey results from over 2,500 respondents were submitted to attendees of the ‘Water Summit”.  Subsequent to this, the LCA has been included in most all meetings with local officials regarding water issues.

 

To give you a sense of what the LCA Board does on your behalf other than meet once a month, during 2009 we met with State Senator Nichols, State Representative Brandon Creighton, Conroe Mayor Melder, County Judge Sadler, County Commissioners Meador and Doyal, the San Jacinto River Authority, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Woodlands Township Board, Lake Conroe Communities Network, and the Seven Coves Bass Club.  We present to Property Owner Associations and various local groups upon request.  We testified in Austin over funding for aquatic plant management.  And taking the lion share of our time currently, we involve ourselves in the various water issues for our County in cooperation with many involved parties.

 

I don’t know if you’re tired of the overall “water topic” in our County, but I’d be remiss to ignore the problem in this update.  I divide the “water topic” into three catagories:  Water contracts with large water users, Lake levels on Lake Conroe, and Future water sources for our County.  We have stayed away from the category “Water contracts with large water users” since this is an individual issue between The City of Conroe, various MUD Districts and the San Jacinto River Authority.  We hope they will collectively resolve this situation to provide the best solution for everyone involved.  On the category “Future water sources for our County”, this topic is somewhat “tabled” currently (and will be picked up again in the near future).  I say “tabled” because the immediate priority has been resolving the issue of “Water contracts with large water users” and the necessity for the San Jacinto River Authority to initiate construction of its water treatment plant and pipelines by the imposed 2016 completion deadline.  Judge Sadler did present his concept of a future reservoir site within our County to the Region H Water Planning Board, but that Board elected to exclude this request currently based on a lack of adequate engineering studies at this time.  A thorough review of reservoir site options and cost comparisons to other sources of water such as buying water from the Trinity River Authority or drilling deep wells to capture “brackish water” (water with a high salt content located below the aquifers we currently utilize) will be further explored this year independently by a variety of entities.  While the San Jacinto River Authority has not committed to review alternative reservoir sites until after 2016, we are hopeful that their timetable will be moved up and resources allocated to this review prior to 2016.  And that leaves us with the topic of “Lake levels on Lake Conroe”……a topic of great interest to our many LCA members.

 

Rather than go down the arguments that “Lake Conroe was built as a reservoir and not for the benefit of lakefront owners” or “Lowering the level of Lake Conroe will have enormous affects on the local economy and property values”, I’ll just summarize what’s being done to review the data regarding lake levels.  The San Jacinto River Authority hired an independent consulting firm to utilize historic data to project the potential effects on our lake levels and, based on reports provided to them by those consultants, concluded that “The true effect of SJRA’s plan on the lake level of Lake Conroe will be minimal”.  It appears that all in the County are not quite ready to accept that conclusion.  While I, personally, waded through piles of data and reports to try to come to the same conclusion as SJRA, I found the sheer quantity of data to be daunting and my engineering expertise lacking to report as any type of “expert”.  Fortunately, in attending a meeting at SJRA’s office last week, I learned that plenty of entities have engaged their own consultants to review the work completed by SJRA’s consultants.  In fact, this data and the conclusions reached are being currently reviewed by a minimum of five (5) other consulting firms employed individually by the City of Conroe, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, a group of MUD Districts and a group of local developers whose future projects would be negatively affected by low lake levels.  While I do not have a specific timetable from them on completion of their five independent reviews, I’m confident all understand time is of the essence and that they are far more qualified than I to adequately review this important topic.

 

But, here are a few of things I can share with you based on our involvement to date.  SJRA presents information that in future years of maximum water use (2045 and beyond by their estimation) where 100,000 acre feet per year are drawn from Lake Conroe (which SJRA refers to as “4 feet of water”), we should not be concerned because an average of seven (7) feet of water is released through the dam each year.  First, I’d like to clarify that 100,000 acre feet is far closer to “5 feet of water” than “4 feet of water”.  Second, the conclusion that the 100,000 acre feet per year of water won’t be reached until 2045 is based on two critical assumptions: 1) Projected population growth, and 2) Estimated re-charge rate of our aquifer.  If either of these assumptions are in error, we could see the use of that 100,000 acre feet per year much earlier than 2045.  And third, while stating that an “average” of seven feet of water is released through the dam each year, the use of this “average” is quite misleading.  In fact, in the ten years ended 2008, less than 100,000 acre feet per year were released in five (5) out of the past ten (10) years.  Specifically, releases were as follows:  1999….68,531 acre feet, 2000….15,391 acre feet, 2003….85,978 acre feet, 2006….10,391 acre feet, and 2008….58,193 acre feet.  We look forward to these five consulting firms reviewing SJRA’s historical data and the underlying assumptions applied, and we hope they reinforce SJRA’s conclusion that “lake level effects will be minimal”.  It would be wonderful to have all agree on the validity of SJRA’s conclusions and get us all moving in one direction together on the lake level topic.

 

While I have not discussed the need for Water Conservation, it clearly remains a vital topic for our future.  Since the Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) has created a committee to review this area, the LCA did not see the need for a duplication of efforts.  The LCA does have a LCA Board Member on LCCN’s Water Committee.  LCCN is a valuable local organization who tackles numerous topics on our collective behalf, and they deserve our support and thanks.

 

If you were wondering, we estimate that approximately 59,000 White Amur Grass Carp are still alive currently in Lake Conroe.  This is based on Texas Parks & Wildlife’s assumption of a 32% mortality rate per year and no reproduction of the genetically modified species.

 

Just a reminder…..early voting is currently being conducted for the March 2 primary elections.  For many on Lake Conroe, the closest location is the West County Courthouse Annex at 19380 Texas 105 West, Suite 507 in Montgomery.  The Courier lists all early voting locations and times if you’re looking for an alternative site.  Whether you early vote or vote on March 2, please voice your opinion by voting.

 

 January rainfall at the damsite totaled2.28 inches and February rainfall through February 17 totalled 2.44 inches.  In reviewing data from the damsite between 1999 and 2008, average January rainfall has equated to3.81 inches and average February rainfall for 17 days has equated to 2.09 inches.  Water is currently being released from the dam and today’s lake level is 201.16.   The average temperature in January and February is 47 degrees and 52 degrees, respectively, compared to our actual 2010 results of 46 degrees for January and 42 degrees for February.

 

And finally, the LCA is trying to update a list of Property Owners’ Associations.  This information would be used to keep the various Lake Conroe communities advised of issues critical to our lake.  Would you please contact the head of your POA and request that they provide us with 1) Name of your subdivision or lakefront community, 2) An e-mail contact for the POA, and 3) A phone number or contact for the POA if no e-mail is available?  This information will be used only by the LCA and not shared with anyone.  Please send replies to our LCA Board Member Jim Pohoski at  jimpoho@cebridge.net.  Thank you, in advance, for your consideration in this request.

 

We hope you found this LCA President’s Update to be informative and appreciate your continuing support.  Should you have questions or feedback, e-mails can be sent to www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  Let’s look forward to wonderful Spring and Summer seasons ahead.

 

Working for you,

 

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Lake Conroe Association Completes Funding of Texas A&M Lake Study of Economic Impacts of Lower Lake Conroe Water Levels Planned by San Jacinto River Authority

Raising money in today’s economy is never easy.  When the Lake Conroe Association (LCA), Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN), Montgomery County and the City of Conroe desired to engage Texas A&M University for an independent study on drawing water from Lake Conroe, it came with a hefty $142,000 price tag.  The LCA kicked off the fund raising effort three months ago by agreeing to contribute the first $50,000 towards the study.  When all potential donors had completed making (or passed on making) their donations, the collective efforts fell $16,000 short.  Understanding the importance of completing this study, the LCA agreed this week to make up the $16,000 shortfall and raised its total contribution to $66,000.

As previously reported, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) and San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) have determined that water will be drawn from Lake Conroe starting in 2016 to meet the ever-growing demand on Montgomery County’s water supply.  SJRA, with a virtual monopoly on water supply in our County, engaged the engineering firm of Freece & Nichols to review the effects on Lake Conroe’s water levels and subsequently concluded that “the effects would be minimal”.  While this may be true, some question the accuracy of this conclusion and believe a second, independent evaluation is appropriate in such a vital issue as our future water supply and the impact of lake level reductions on the economies of the Lake Area and Montgomery County.

Three (3) key variables could dramatically affect the conclusions drawn by SJRA and its engineering firm, Freece & Nichols.  First, anticipated future water use is directly based on population demographics which project the rise in residents in Montgomery County.  Concerns exist that the population projections are understated and that water demands could be far greater than those used in SJRA’s conclusion.

Second, the aquifer historically supplying groundwater for Montgomery County (which, until now, provided 100% of the water used in the County) is not sufficiently recharging and only “estimates” by LSGCD can predict the rate at which it will recharge itself in the future.  If LSGCD’s “estimates” are too optimistic and, in fact, the aquifer cannot recharge adequately at the reduced level of usage it has mandated, LSGCD will further reduce the amount of water that may be used from the aquifer and increase the amount of water that must be drawn from Lake Conroe (or other unproven water sources such as “brackish water”).

Third, the City of Houston owns two-thirds of Lake Conroe water.  Under its contract with SJRA, Houston can sell any part of its two-thirds that SJRA doesn’t nominate for its own use in a given year.

While SJRA has concluded that its planned sales of water will only have “minimal effects” on Lake Conroe’s water levels over the next 40 years, errors in population demographics, lower aquifer recharge rates and/or the sale of water by the City of Houston could escalate water use “sooner rather than later” and create serious problems within 15 to 20 years.

The Texas A&M University study will review two distinct topics.  First, it will review the study conducted by Freece and Nichols on behalf of SJRA.  Texas A&M will analyze the facts, methods and assumptions applied by Freece and Nichols in an effort to support or refute that study.  In particular, Texas A&M will conclude if it agrees or disagrees with future lake levels as projected.  Second, Texas A&M will review the socio-economic effects on residents and businesses in the Lake Conroe area should lake levels drop to economically disadvantaged levels.  Coupled with this socio-economic study will be a review of the effects throughout Montgomery County if they conclude a negative economic impact is likely in the Lake Conroe area and insufficient water is available for our future.

In the socio-economic portion of the study, numerous questions are under review.  If lake levels were to drop to economically disadvantaged levels:

  • How would this affect lake area property values?
  • How would this affect property tax collections (used to fund the majority of County, school and hospital district budgets)?
  • How would this affect local business activity and related sales tax collections?

Since a maximum of 100,000 acre feet of water per year may be drawn from Lake Conroe, concerns exist that we may run out of water “sooner rather than later”.  If we were to run out of water:

  • How would existing County residents and businesses adapt to a lack of water?
  • Would all residential and business development be curtailed due to the inability to provide water for that growth throughout Montgomery County?
  • If growth within Montgomery County is curtailed, what happens to a County that can no longer sustain growth?

Certain potential donors to this Texas A&M study have elected not to contribute (such as The Woodlands Township….the most populous and tax-abundant area in the County) because: 1) SJRA already did a study, 2) SJRA is in charge of water in Montgomery County, and 3) lake levels on Lake Conroe do not directly affect their community.  While these points may hold some validity, a much bigger point is being missed; namely, what happens when the County runs out of water?  Lake Conroe may be able to satisfy our short-term water needs, but will not be able to supply our water needs forever.  Among many interested parties, the LCA, LCCN, Montgomery County and the City of Conroe desire to explore future reservoir sites before it’s too late, damage is done to our economies and our water demands outweigh our water supply.  While SJRA is virtually in charge of all of the County’s water, SJRA has declined to support a review of future reservoir sites “for at least 5 years”.  The procurement of land, acquisition of permits and construction of a suitable future reservoir site would most likely take 20 – 25 years, or more.  What happens if a scenario as outlined above occurs where local economies are damaged and the County runs out of water in 15 years?  Is it not time to take action on the review of a reservoir to supplement Lake Conroe NOW?            

Across the world, people are realizing that WATER is the commodity of the future.  Alternatives to oil are being developed to fuel our seemingly endless energy needs.  But, as best we know, no one has developed an alternative to water.  Certainly, water conservation methods will become commonplace across the nations to reduce our demands on our precious water supply.  But, it is our belief that better efforts must be made today to capture every drop of water that falls from the sky.  For Montgomery County, that means a second reservoir.

Many thanks must go to the Lake Conroe Communities Network for spearheading volunteer efforts in pursing the Texas A&M study and fundraising.  Judge Sadler and Commissioner Mike Meador deserve acknowledgement for contributing money and staff time, and for legal resources in the negotiation of a contract with Texas A&M University for this water study.  Conroe Mayor Webb Melder, Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Brandon Creighton provided support and leadership; and, certainly, those entities contributing monies towards this study deserve our gratitude.  Financial contributors include the LCA, LCCN, Montgomery County, the City of Conroe, the City of Montgomery, MUD 2, MUD 4, MUD 8, MUD 9, MUD 18, Emergency Services District 1, Corinthian Point, La Torretta del Lago, private utility owner Mike Stoecker, and the Dana Richardson family businesses E-Z Boat Storage, The Palms Marina and Sunset Shores RV Park.

The Lake Conroe Association, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation, is fortunate to have over 400 supportive residential and business members who contribute their hard-earned dollars to support our past and, hopefully, future efforts on behalf of the many communities within Montgomery County.  The LCA currently has over 21,000 fund raising letters in the mail as part of our Annual 2010 Fund Raising Campaign.  Should you receive yours in the mail, the LCA would greatly appreciate your support.  In the event you do not receive such a letter, donations can be mailed to: Lake Conroe Association, PO Box 376, Willis, Texas  77378-9998.  Additional information regarding the LCA can be obtained at www.lakeconroeassociation.com and about LCCN at www.lakeconroecn.com.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

It has been a beautiful, yet dry, Fall season so far.  I hope you’ve made your way outdoors to enjoy the lower temperatures, lower humidity and endless sunshine we’ve shared for the past six weeks or so.  But with “the good” usually comes “some bad”.  Officially in the Lake Conroe area, we’ve had only 2.83 inches of rain since September 1 and the lake level has dropped to a level of 199.36 as of today.  At this level, the lake is 1 foot 8 inches below its normal pool elevation of 201 feet.  Please be careful out there boating as submerged debris and stumps are much closer to the surface when the lake level is down.

With the lack of rainfall and dry conditions, Montgomery County was officially placed under a Burn Ban as of October 25.  Please resist burning your leaves or lighting that Fall bonfire as conditions are extremely hazardous.

The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) initiated its Annual Fund Raising Campaign on June 10 and identified its primary, immediate need to be monies to fund a study by Texas A&M University which will review future lake levels once water starts being removed by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) in 2016 (further discussion of this Texas A&M study follows).  The LCA agreed to pay $66,000 of the $142,000 total study cost; with the balance funded by Montgomery County, the Cities of Conroe and Montgomery, various MUD’s, Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) and other lake-related donors.  LCA’s Annual Fund Raising Campaign has raised $57,585 to date and $8,415 was paid from the LCA’s reserves to meet that $66,000 obligation.  We greatly appreciate the continued generosity of our LCA Members in donating $57,585 during these difficult economic times.  Should you have missed the LCA’s Annual Fund Raising Campaign and still desire to contribute, monies can be mailed payable to the “Lake Conroe Association” at PO Box 376, Willis, Texas  77378-9998.

The contract between Texas A&M University and Montgomery County for the above-referenced Lake Study was approved by Commissioners Court and executed by Montgomery County on September 27.  With SJRA prepared to initiate significant water removal in 2016 yet stating that the effects on Lake Conroe’s lake levels will be “minimal”, the Lake Study will review engineering studies commissioned by SJRA in an effort to understand and validate (or not validate) SJRA’s conclusions on future lake levels.  Should Texas A&M’s study conclude that lake levels may drop lower than predicted by SJRA, Texas A&M will also study the economic impact on our community, and Montgomery County as a whole, of lower lake levels.  The 16 month “Timeline of A&M Study of Economic Impact of SJRA’s Planned Lake Level Reductions” includes reviews of lake level studies, property value assessments, and sales tax revenue data; and also includes a survey of residents, business survey and a contemplated Town Hall Meeting.  The Lake Study including all elements listed here is to be completed by December, 2011.

As you’ve most likely read, water conservation has become a key element in both reducing our overall water consumption and potentially helping maintain lake levels in Lake Conroe.  LCCN (a local community organization) has spearheaded the water conservation topic and held several presentations to elected officials, MUD’s, and interested parties.  For more information about LCCN and their work on water conservation, you may review their website at www.lakeconroecn.com.

An invasive species named Zebra Mussels have been identified for the first time on Lake Conroe.  Zebra Mussels multiply quickly and have damaged many bodies of water in the U.S. and around the world (causing clogged intake pipes, damaging boat hulls, creating sharp surfaces on boat docks and lake floors, and altering water chemistry).  Fortunately, this case of Zebra Mussels was identified on the hull of a boat BEFORE it was launched into Lake Conroe thanks to an observant marina owner (and LCA Board Vice President).  In conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife and SJRA, the LCA has contributed $1,250 towards the creation and installation of 250 permanent signs around Lake Conroe at various access points to educate the public on the importance of inspecting your boat hull before launching that boat into any body of water.  For more information on Zebra Mussels, you can access www.texasinvasives.org.

Texas Parks & Wildlife completed its survey of aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe in July, 2010 and reported only 0.02 acres of Hydrilla, 1.79acres of Giant Salvinia and 1.16 acres of Water Hyacinth…..ALL GREAT NEWS !!  Native vegetation (natural, beneficial plants) held steady at 150.21 acres.  Many thanks are due Texas Parks & Wildlife and SJRA for their efforts in controlling invasive aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe, and to our LCA Members who have donated over $500,000 over the past four (4) years towards this cause.

As you may be aware, the primary method of controlling Hydrilla (which covered over 2,000 surface acres of Lake Conroe only two years ago) has been the purchase of 130,000 White Amur Grass Carp.  Based on a 32% estimated mortality per year and the fact that this species has been genetically-engineered so as not to produce offspring, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) estimates that 48,000 were still alive on May 31, 2010 and projects that 32,000, 22,000 and 15,000 grass carp will be alive on May 31 of 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.  When asked how it will calculate when to start adding new White Amur Grass Carp to Lake Conroe, TPWD responded “As soon as Hydrilla starts to expand into water beyond a few inches deep, it will likely be time to add more grass carp.  At that point, stocking calculations will be based on returning the number of grass carp per total surface acre to the most recent survey where Hydrilla was totally under control.  In this way, we hopefully will remain in a proactive mode instead of a reactive mode.”  The LCA meets regularly with TPWD and SJRA to discuss aquatic plant surveys and means by which to maintain a healthy Lake Conroe.

Well, that’s it for another edition of our LCA President’s Update.  You can review previous editions of these LCA President’s Updates, follow current topics of interest, and send us your comments at our website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  We’re wishing you a wonderful Fall season on the lake and thank you for your continued support.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Raindrops keep falling….and falling….and falling on my head. With all of our recent rain and the gates on the dam open as the San Jacinto River Authority releases water downstream, it’s hard to imagine that the topic most on the minds of the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) is the availability of water for Montgomery County.  Given so many water issues being discussed, I thought I’d update you on our perspective of where the discussions stand.

Judge Sadler held his “Water Summit” on September 28 with invitees including State Senators Nichols and Williams; State Representatives Creighton and Eissler; County Commissioners Meador, Doyal, and Chance; Conroe Mayor Melder; Woodlands Township Chairperson Blair; the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA); and the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD).  SJRA presented data from the recently completed engineering study on historic Lake Conroe data (lake levels, rainfall, evaporation, water releases from the dam, etc) which included many “What If Scenarios” based on utilizing water from LakeConroe in different quantities in the future.  Judge Sadler presented his concept of creating two future reservoirs within the County for water collection and use.  While all attendees agreed that the topic of water for the County must be addressed, few specific conclusions or action items were developed.  Regardless of this, Judge Sadler’s initiative to call this “Water Summit” brought many of the necessary parties together and set the basis for future such meetings.  I believe we will shortly see another such “Water Summit” and, with a stronger consensus among the invitees on the best way to address our water needs, a subsequent meeting for the general public of Montgomery County.  We’ll keep you posted when this public meeting is called.

You may recall the LCA’s September Question and Answer Survey related to lake issues that was mailed to over 19,000 County residents.  With over 2,500 written, signed responses, the survey results were submitted to the attendees of the “Water Summit”.  Key responses included:

  • 86% knew groundwater use must be reduced by 30% by 2015
  • To meet this goal, 87% knew water would be drawn out ofLakeConroe
  • 97% believed lowering the level of Lake Conroe would hurt the local economy and property values
  • 98% believed lowering the level of Lake Conroe would, at times, restrict access to the lake for recreational use of boaters and anglers
  • 95% believed water conservation measures should be implemented for existing sub-divisions, and 97% for future community developments

We would like to acknowledge Senator Nichols for personally responding to all 2,500 respondents with his thoughts on our water future.

We meet regularly with Board Members of the Lake Conroe Community Network to discuss water needs for Montgomery County.  This organization has held informative public meetings on the topics of property taxes, annexation, emergency services and water; and we find them to be most helpful in discussing water facts and potential water solutions.

During the past two weeks, we have met individually with Judge Sadler, Senator Nichols, Mayor Melder, and the SJRA.  In my meeting with Judge Sadler, I was assured that I will be allowed to attend future “Water Summits” as a representative of the LCA.  While calendars didn’t work for a meeting with Representative Creighton, our phone conversation provided insight and we set a meeting date for next week.  We are working to set a meeting date with Woodlands Township Chairperson Blair in an effort to better understand the perspectives of Woodlands’ residents as it relates to water use.

What do I feel I can state with some level of certainty?  I’d say:

  • Montgomery County needs water.  Our County is growing rapidly and growth requires water.
  • Virtually all of Montgomery County’s residential water today comes from groundwater in our aquifer via water wells.
  • Our aquifer has been overused and cannot be allowed to decrease to a level where it endangers that the aquifer will never be able to “recharge” itself.  The LSGCD has concluded that the County can no longer draw greater than 64,000 acre feet of water annually from the aquifer, and that any water needs in excess of this must come from surface water (such as Lake Conroe).  The U.S. Geological Service is releasing a report before year end which addresses how fast our aquifer is “recharging” itself, and this report will provide data to support (or modify) assumptions made by LSGCD.
  • 2015 is the year in which the County will no longer be allowed to draw greater than 64,000 acre feet of water annually from groundwater in our aquifer via water wells.
  • In 2015, all County water needs in excess of 64,000 acre feet per year will come from Lake Conroe.  Based on current water usage and estimated population growth in the County, water use in the County will approximate 87,000 acre feet annually.  The shortfall of 23,000 acre feet (87,000 projected less 64,000 allowed) will equate to about 1 foot of water per year from Lake Conroe(since Lake Conroe covers 23,000 acres and we’ll have a 23,000 acre feet shortfall, the math equates to 1 foot).
  • The one foot of Lake Conroe water will be drawn annually from 2015 to 2024.  Based on estimated population growth and ignoring alternatives (see “Alternatives” below), two feet of Lake Conroe water will be drawn annually from 2025 to 2034; three feet drawn 2035 to 2044; and four feet drawn 2045 and beyond.  The maximum allowable annual draw from Lake Conroe has been set by The State of Texas at 100,000 acre feet.
  • A water treatment plant will be built below the dam on Lake Conroe and pipelines connected from that water treatment plant to various locations including, but not limited to, Conroe and The Woodlands.  Planning and construction will commence shortly so as to meet the mandated 2015 groundwater reduction deadline.  The water treatment plant will be built in units called “trains”, and additional “trains” will be added as additional water is required in each ten year interval described above.  The estimated cost of “Phase 1” (2015 operational date) is $400 million.  The estimated cost of “Phases 1 thru 4” (2045 operational date) is $2.8 billion.  Do not think the construction of the water treatment plant is an option.  This construction is a certainty, and only the amount of water needed in the future will dictate the number of “trains” needed and the final cost.

ALTERNATIVES:  How could the amount of water to be drawn from Lake Conroe in the future be reduced?  “Alternatives” include:

  • Water conservation will be an integral part of reducing the amount of water drawn fromLakeConroe.  If we use less water, then we won’t have to draw as much.  Since a maximum of 100,000 acre feet per year can be drawn fromLakeConroeand more water than that will be needed someday, water conservation will be with us forever.  For a separate discussion of this, see “Water Conservation” below.
  • Utilizing waste effluent from treatment plants for irrigation will reduce our water use.  In summer months, it is estimated that 60% of our residential water use goes to irrigation (watering your yard and landscape).  In the winter, that estimate is 30%.  While it may be difficult to convert existing subdivisions and commercial development into users of effluent for irrigation (since the construction and infrastructure is already in place), new construction could much easier accommodate the use of effluent for irrigation by incorporating this concept into the planning stage of that development.
  • Further consideration must be given to Judge Sadler’s proposal of building two new reservoirs to capture water that would otherwise be released over the dam on Lake Conroe or lost elsewhere during periods of heavy rainfall.  Conceptually, these two reservoirs would capture water before it gets toLakeConroe.  If Lake Conroe were not full (at the 201 feet level), then the water would be allowed to flow intoLakeConroe.  If Lake Conroe were full and excess rains would be otherwise released downstream, these reservoirs would capture the water behind dams and hold it there until Lake Conroe needed it to fill the lake to the 201 feet level (normal pool elevation).  Clear obstacles to this proposal include the procurement of the land for the creation of the two reservoirs (some of which would have to come from theSamHoustonNational Forest) and the multitude of environmental concerns related to such a project.  The cost of such a project has not yet been determined.  SJRA has agreed to conduct a feasibility study of this proposal, but a study date earlier than 2015 has not been agreed to yet by SJRA.  Approvals for and construction of such reservoirs would probably take a minimum of 20 to 30 years (remembering that our County’s water needs will be here forever).
  • Many have suggested that an “alternative” might be building a reservoir between Lake Conroe and The Woodlands which captures all water released over the dam atLakeConroe.  This “alternative” has been discounted based on the lack of a suitable site.  To be cost effective and practical, this reservoir would require too much land given the lack of undeveloped land between Lake Conroe and The Woodlands.

WATER CONSERVATION:  What are suggestions for implementing a County-wide program for Water Conservation?  Some include:

  • Given the estimate above that 60% of our residential water use in summer is for irrigation, numerous concepts utilized currently by other communities could be applied.  Automatic sprinkler systems can have rain sensors added which stops the system from engaging if a certain amount of rain has fallen.  Manual sprinkler systems (hose with a sprinkler attached) could require a dial timer inserted before the sprinkler itself which forces the homeowner to set a specific watering duration (How many times have you turned on your manual sprinkler and forgot to turn it off?).  Automatic sprinkler systems can have a feature added which turn off your system if a sprinkler head is broken off or an underground water line is broken.
  • Consideration could be given to the specific landscaping plants that you select.  Obviously, some plants and trees require more water than others.  Similarly, certain lawn grasses require significantly less water thanSt. Augustine, for example.
  • Many modifications within your home can reduce the amount of water that you consume.  Examples include low water volume toilets, low water volume shower heads, and water efficient dish washers.  Showers typically take less water than baths.  Reducing shower duration affects water use.  Reducing frequency of car washes affects water use.  Eliminating the use of your water hose to clean your sidewalks and driveways reduces water use.  I’m sure you could come up with further ideas of your own.
  • Consideration should be given to reducing or eliminating amenity ponds and water features that are created strictly for aesthetic purposes.  Amenity ponds are currently replenished with groundwater and water features (waterfalls, fountains) create excessive evaporation.
  • Utility Districts/MUD’s are contemplating a tiered rate structure that charges more money per unit (gallons) based on your individual residential water use.  Basically, a “standard” is set for residential water use per month.  If you use the “standard” amount, you pay the standard price per gallon.  If you use more water than the “standard”, you pay a higher price per gallon.  If you use less water than the “standard”, you pay a lower price per gallon.  This type of program assumes that water users are price sensitive and that they will reduce usage when they 1) pay closer attention to their water usage, and 2) must pay a higher unit cost per gallon due to their “excessive” use.  This type of program has already been implemented in certain Utility Districts within Conroe and The Woodlands.
  • State legislation could be developed that mandates water conservation in some form.  Currently, neither The State of Texas no rMontgomery County nor SJRA nor LSGCD nor anyone else can mandate water conservation.  Senator Nichols has approached the LCA and Lake Conroe Communities Network for assistance in drafting wording for possible water conservation legislation.  You can’t submit a bill for legislation without wording.  Of course, nothing says such legislation would pass; but this is a start at addressing the State-wide problem of how to provide water to an ever-growing population.

FURTHER THOUGHTS:  Please consider the following:

  • The initial 1 foot of water per year will not be drawn from Lake Conroe until 2015.
  • For a current perspective, this weeks storms have forced SJRA to release 1 foot of water over the dam to reduce the lake level back to 201 feet (normal pool).
  • The average quantity of water released over the dam on Lake Conroe equates to seven feet per year (since the 1973 construction of the lake).  Through 2024, drawing one foot of water from Lake Conroe should simplistically mean that lake levels will remain similar to today but now only six foot (rather than seven foot) of water will be released over the dam per year.  Of course, beware of “averages”.  Some years will see more than seven feet and others less than seven feet.
  • Since the construction of Lake Conroe in 1973, this lake has dropped to a level of 197 feet (the level after Hurricane Rita when water had to be released to repair the dam) on 0.9% of the months over these 36 years.  Had one foot of water been removed from the lake every year since 1973, the lake would have reached a level of 197 feet on 4.3% of the months over these 36 years.  Don’t get me wrong.  The level of 197 feet was terrible and only three public boat launches could even get a boat in the water.  This factoid simply points out that given the one foot drawdown, we’d reach the level of 197 feet 18 months (out of 432 months in 36 years) rather than the actual 4 months (out of 432 months in 36 years).
  • The projected draw downs of 1, 2, 3 and 4 feet do not factor in the benefits of water conservation.  Successful water conservation efforts County-wide will reduce our overall water use.  This will equate to either a direct reduction in the drawdown amounts or an increase in the future levels of our aquifer (which would allow more water to be drawn from the aquifer and less taken from Lake Conroe).  The LSGCD will regularly monitor our aquifer level and adjust water programs accordingly.
  • You may not be aware that the majority of waste effluent from treatment plants around Lake Conroe is pumped into Lake Conroe.  Population growth has already been factored into projected draw downs.  What has not been credited is that population growth creates more waste effluent which goes into the lake and, thereby, adds some amount of water to Lake Conroe.
  • Typically,LakeConroedrops to the level of 197 feet only during an emergency (dam repair) or a drought.  SJRA is working on a “drought contingency plan” which would limit how much water could be removed from Lake Conroe in a period classified as a drought.

I’ve ignored so many details yet have written five pages already.  If you’ve read this far, I commend your dedication to the topic and patience with me.  I’ll leave topics like “How will we pay for this new water treatment plant?” and “What will all of this do to my monthly water bill?” for another day.  For now, know that concerned citizens like those Board Members of the Lake Conroe Association and Lake Conroe Communities Network are doing their best to learn about “the water business” and challenge our elected officials to arrive at the best solution for all residents of Montgomery County.  As always, we welcome your feedback at www.lakeconroeassociation.com.  I’ll communicate further information and the proposed public water summit date when we know more.  Until then, enjoy what I hope is some beautiful fall weather.

Mike Bleier, President

LakeConroeAssociation

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

In late September, the LCA conducted a survey to establish the understanding of water conservation, the use of surface water, the effect of using surface water on the level of Lake Conroe, and the economic impact the lake has on the Montgomery County economy. Senator Nichols presented the results of the survey to the participants at the “Water Summit”. The results of the survey are presented below:

 LAKE CONROE ASOCIATION

SUMMARY OF SEPT’09 “QUESTION AND ANSWER SURVEY”….2,565 RESPONSES

 1.        96% were aware that water is a most valuable resource and that the aquifer is depleting (2,465 “yes” and 100 ”no”)

2.       85% were aware that Lake Conroe was built as a reservoir to provide water for the City of Houston and Montgomery County (2,189 “yes” and 376 “no”)

3.       86% were aware that Montgomery County residents must reduce water consumption from aquifers (underground water) by 30% by 2015 (now 2016) (2,197 “yes” and 368 “no”)

4.       86% were aware that a proposed solution to reducing water consumption from aquifers is to pump the needed water out of Lake Conroe (2,200 “yes” and 365 “no”)

5.       97% were aware that pumping water out of Lake Conroe will lower the lake’s level unless alternative sources of water for Montgomery County are identified (2,484 “yes” and 81 “no”)

6.       97% believe lowering the level of Lake Conroe will hurt our local economy (2,480 “yes” and 85 “no”)

7.       97% believe lowering the level of Lake Conroe will hurt local property values (2,490 “yes” and 75 “no”)

8.       91% are concerned lowering the level of Lake Conroe could damage the structural integrity of the dam (especially during storms) (2,323 “yes” and “242 “no”)

9.       98% believe lowering the level of Lake Conroe will, at times, restrict access to the lake for recreational use of boaters and anglers (2,521 “yes” and 44 “no”)

10.   94% believe lowering the level of Lake Conroe may damage integral native aquatic plant life which provides fish and bird habitat, controls shoreline erosion, and contributes to water quality (2,420 “yes” and 145 “no”)

11.   92% believe lowering the level of Lake Conroe may promote excessive growth of noxious, invasive, non-native vegetation such as Hydrilla (2,368 “yes” and 197 “no”)

12.   95% believe strong water conservation measures must be implemented in existing sub-divisions (2,427 “yes” and 138 “no”)

13.   97% believe that all future land developments must be approved with regulations restricting amenity lakes and irrigation systems that use ground water or surface water (2,496 “yes” and 69 “no”)

14.   98% believe this water shortage problem should be solved with all available options instead of simply using water from Lake Conroe (2,521 “yes” and 44 “no”)

 

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

On May 6, 2009, the Seven Coves Bass Club, in conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the San Jacinto River Authority, presented information regarding the planting of “native plants” in Lake Conroe.  As the majority of the LCA Board attended this meeting and gained information, we thought we should share this information with you.

The “Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan” for 2008-2009 outlines the need to reduce invasive species such as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth as well as maintain a healthy native plant community.  This Plan was developed by Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto River Authority, and similar Plans have been in place since the return of Hydrilla some 7-8 years ago.

“Native plants” are an important part of ourLake’s ecosystem.  Without “native plants”, we experience lake bank erosion and increased sedimentation.  “Native plants” utilize nutrients in our Lake which would otherwise be used by invasive species or fast-growing algae.  “Native plants” also provide oxygen needed by healthy fish communities.

Given sunlight, warm temperatures, nutrients and shallow waters, some form of plant life is always going to grow in ourLake.  With the reduction of Hydrilla from over 2,000 acres to virtually no acres and Giant Salvinia from over 628 acres to approximately 150 acres and Water Hyacinth from over 335 acres to approximately 50 acres, some form of plant life is going to move into the space vacated by these reduced invasive plant species.  The question for us is “What plants do we want in ourLake?”.  It would seem obvious that we do not want invasive species to again take over our Lake.  A healthy native plant community, in conjunction with a “maintenance level” of White Amur grass carp and herbicide applications as needed, is the answer to holding back the “invasive plants”.

“Native plants” have been added to ourLakefor the past 25 years.  If you visit the northern end of theLake, you’d have seen them protected by metal cages or fences in small coves.  Since the addition of over 123,000 White Amur grass carp over the past 3 years to battle the invasion of Hydrilla, the “native plant” community has dramatically reduced from 1,078 acres in 2007 to 140 acres in 2008.  A survey is currently being undertaken by Texas Parks & Wildlife to estimate the number of acres of “native plants” as well as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth.  It is anticipated that the number of acres of “native plants” will show a further decrease.

The Seven Coves Bass Club grows “native plants” in a nursery located near the dam at the San Jacinto River Authority facility.  Seedlings are obtained from theLewisville,TexasResearch Facility and grown in contained water gardens until they can be separated (split in two).  One half of the plant stays in the nursery (for further propagation) and the second half is planted in the northern, uninhabited portions of the Lake in protective cages.  Over time, these “native plants” expand by either colonization around the cage site or by seed dispersion.  1,200 “native plants” were placed in ourLakein 2008, and an estimated 4,500 will be added in 2009.  To put this in perspective, 4,500 plants will cover approximately one quarter of an acre of shoreline.  As stated by Texas Parks & Wildlife, “It may take 3 to 5 years until we see noticeable vegetation outside of the cages due to the slow growing rate of these natives.”

The “native plants” utilized are preferably grass carp resistant (meaning the grass carp prefer not to eat them).  “Natives” being utilized under this program include American Pondweed, Illinois Pondweed, Wild Celery (Vallisneria), Water Stargrass, Coontail, White Water Lily, Spatterdock, Watershield, American Lotus, Bulltongue, Arrowhead, Pickerelweed, Water Willow, Softstem Bulrush, Flatstem Spikerush, Squarestem Spikerush, Slender Spikerush and Maidencane.  As the Lake Conroe Association is not familiar with each plant, we are currently undertaking a study to better understand each plant and its characteristics.  In particular, we are interested in understanding the growth rate of each species and how it may disperse along our shorelines in the future.  We will have dialogue with the Seven Coves Bass Club, Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto River Authority regarding these issues.  We will release our findings and summaries of these dialogues to our LCA Members in future correspondence.

Not to get “the horse before the cart”, but Texas Parks & Wildlife has stated that they will issue permits to homeowners (through licensed applicators) for herbicide treatments to kill “native plants” which grow at your boat dock and limit your access to the Lake….should this even happen.  Such treatments would be at the expense of the homeowner.  Texas Parks & Wildlife has selected these specific “native plants” not only because they may be grass carp resistant but also because they typically do not act in an invasive manner and create access issues for lake users.  We will all be closely observing the behavior of these “native plants” in the future.

With Hydrilla almost gone and an estimated 70,000 grass carp still alive in Lake Conroe, the issue of “Should grass carp start being harvested from theLake?” has arisen.  Texas Parks & Wildlife commits to keeping a “maintenance level” of grass carp in Lake Conroe“forever” and won’t consider any harvesting of grass carp until it completes its current survey of levels of “native plants”, Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Giant Salvinia.  Should Texas Parks & Wildlife determine they desire to harvest grass carp, they propose to do so only through licensed grass carp tournaments (typically via bow and arrow) (and assumed by me to be only in uninhabited shorelines) which may harvest 30 – 40 grass carp per tournament (not “per person”….”per tournament”) based on previous results of Texas Parks & Wildlife grass carp tournaments.  We’ll further address this topic should it actually be proposed by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you again with all of my detail, but the Lake Conroe Association Board feels that part of our job is to keep you informed.  I’ll write again soon when we have more information to share.  Until then, you may share your thoughts with us through our website at “lakeconroeassociation.com”.  Enjoy your Summer use of the Lake Conroe and remember to always be careful on the Lake.

Mike Bleier, President

LakeConroeAssociation

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Welcome to 2009. On behalf of the LCA Board of Directors, we’d like to thank our membership for their support in 2008 and wish all of you a prosperous 2009.

The LCA held its Annual Meeting on Friday, January 16 at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority to update our Members on topics of current interest and tally all proxies received from our Members to elect an LCA Board of Directors for 2009. From our 507 current LCA Members, 173 proxies were returned (which exceeds the minimum number necessary for a quorum). You elected the following individuals to represent you on the 2009 LCA Board of Directors: Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead and Sue Wheatley. All eleven (11) of these individuals served on your 2007 and 2008 Boards as well. We look forward to serving you and our lake community in the year to come.

Subsequent to the LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board convened to nominate and elect its 2009 Officers. Accepting nomination for 2009 were Mike Bleier (LCA President), Ben Richardson (LCA Vice President) and Tom Butz (LCA Secretary/Treasurer), and all three were unanimously elected into their respective offices.

During the past year, we experienced a decrease in our Hydrilla infestation from 2,052 acres in January, 2008 to only 2 acres currently. A total of 123,765 White Amur grass carp have been added to Lake Conroe (27,441 in 2006, 48,750 in 2007, and 47,574 in 2008) and, based on an estimated mortality rate of 32% per year, approximately 87,000 remain alive at this time. These White Amur remain a protected species (meaning if caught, they must be released) as they will continue their job going forward of eating Hydrilla tubers as they grow out of the lake bottom this Spring and beyond. Unless unforeseen circumstances occur, we anticipate that these White Amur should control Hydrilla in 2009 and no additional White Amur will be added to the lake this year.

Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia (67.9 acres and 628.7 acres, respectively, in October, 2008) become primarily dormant in our Winter temperatures, and no herbicide treatments are currently being performed. We hope that our White Amur will develop an appetite for Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia as their Hydrilla food sources is depleted. Should this not occur, it is probable that Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia will be treated with herbicides by Spring/Summer, 2009.

Other points of interest include:

· Dam repairs from Hurricane Ike damage have commenced. The contract with Rebel Contractors, Inc. of Willis, TX allows 90 days for substantial completion of the project. It is anticipated that 75% of the $978,268 bid will be reimbursed by FEMA (with the balance paid by the San Jacinto River Authority and the City of Houston)

· The current lake level is 199.7 MSL (normal is 201.0 MSL).

· Lake Conroe will be the site for a very large Bass Tournament sponsored by Toyota in October, 2009. Festivities will be coordinated at Buffalo Springs.

· A new boat dock and launch area will be constructed this year at the San Jacinto River Authority damsite for use of the Montgomery County Constables’ lake patrol boats. A new building will also be erected for use of Constable lake personnel.

· The LCA joined the Conroe Chamber of Commerce to promote itself to local businesses and gain the support of this valuable, local organization.

· The next lake survey to quantify infestations of Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia is expected in May, 2009. Another lakewide survey of all native and non-native invasive species will be conducted around September, 2009 by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

· During Winter, we lose approximately 40 million gallons of water per day to evaporation and transpiration. This compares to highs of approximately 200 million gallons per day in Summer.

While the LCA conducts a number of valuable functions for our lake community, a primary responsibility held by the LCA is that of fund raising for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe (with over $600,000 raised in the past three years). We’d like to thank the 70 individuals who sent in contributions along with their LCA proxies this month, and hope that our membership will show continued support throughout 2009. Our next official Fund Raising Campaign will be in May, 2009. With our current economic downturn affecting City, County, State and Federal budgets, we are greatly concerned that funding we count on for Aquatic Plant Management from these sources may be reduced or eliminated. We are working with Senator Robert Nichols and Representative Brandon Creighton to encourage the introduction and passing of bills in the 81st Legislative Session of the Texas Legislature which will guarantee funding for our Texas lakes. As always, we will also continue our communication with local businesses and Property Owner Associations (POA’s) to solicit their support.

During 2008, the LCA received $127, 602 in contributions. During that same period, we spent $115,775 ($112,506 on White Amur, $2,000 on our bi-annual audit, and $1,269 on other expenses); leaving a net positive cash flow of $11,827 for the year. We currently hold $11,013 in an interest-bearing checking account and $80,000 in CD’s. While we are very pleased to have $91,013 on deposit, these funds will not be sufficient to fund the treatment of significant aquatic plant infestations (should they occur). So, as always (and until new sources of City, County, State or Federal funding are received), we are sure to be counting on your support in 2009.

Thank you for listening and remaining committed to our lake community. The LCA Board looks forward to serving you for another year.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

The committee of Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), Lake Conroe Association (LCA), and angler organizations including Seven Coves Bass Club received wonderful news from TPWD regarding Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation. Hydrilla was reported to have decreased from 2,033 acres in January, 2008 to 363 acres in March, 2008 – the lowest Hydrilla acreage since 2005. Finally, some good news !!

TPWD described “schools of White Amur” traveling throughout the Lake and ravaging our nuisance, invasive weed. With approximately 110,000 White Amur still alive at this time (based on an estimated 32% mortality factor) and only 363 infested acres, the White Amur now hold a distinct advantage over Hydrilla in that they are currently stocked at 302 fish/acre. If 110,000 White Amur can devour 1,670 Hydrilla infested acres in two months, just think what those 110,000 White Amur can do to the remaining 363 acres. Even though we are just entering Hydrilla growing season as Lake temperatures warm and sunshine intensifies, we are cautiously optimistic that the Summer of 2008 will be much improved for all Lake users.

Concerns exist over the possibility that once the White Amur eat the majority of our Hydrilla, they will turn to other Lake vegetation as their food source. TPWD reported that White Amur like to eat Bushy Pond Weed, a plant that has caused certain portions of our Lake to become unattractive and less navigable. TPWD also stated that White Amur are less inclined to eat Coontail or Vallisneria – both plants that provide excellent fish habitat and improve water quality. TPWD is actively monitoring the condition of our native plant community and has enlisted the services of two Texas A&M graduate students to study various Lake conditions documented by them in 2007 and comparing that data to new data being gathered in 2008. TPWD stated they were optimistic that our native plant community would survive.

TPWD and SJRA will develop a new, written Aquatic Plant Management Plan for Lake Conroe as the current Plan expired March, 2008. The new Plan will call for surveys of Hydrilla and Giant Salvinia every two months. Should Hydrilla unexpectedly show signs of a “spike” in growth, TPWD has agreed that supplemental stockings of White Amur will not be ruled out. Further, TPWD said any such “spikes” would be dealt with “immediately” rather than taking a slower, measured approach as used throughout the past two (2) years.

The news about another invasive weed, Giant Salvinia, was less encouraging. Giant Salvinia has been reported to cover between 300 – 500 acres currently, and the plant is already actively growing with our warmer temperatures. Giant Salvinia is particularly dangerous for our Lake as it can double in size every three (3) days. SJRA has already initiated herbicide applications to Giant Salvinia, and is negotiating with a helicopter operator for aerial sprayings in the less populated areas like the northern National Forest shoreline. TPWD and SJRA are committed to attacking the Giant Salvinia problem immediately.

After LCA Members donated over $500,000 in the past two years and the combined team of SJRA and LCA have spent well over $1 million to control invasive weeds on Lake Conroe, some good news is finally on the financial horizon. TPWD had secured a $150,000 grant from US Fish & Wildlife for Aquatic Plant Management (APM) on Lake Conroe. Working with LCA and SJRA, Montgomery County has agreed to increase their contribution from their $25,000 budget to $55,000. The US Forest Service has concurred that a significant portion of the Hydrilla infestation is located along the shores of the National Forest and, in response, has agreed to contribute $16,000. The Seven Coves Bass Club, in a somewhat unprecedented move for an angling organization, donated $5,000 for APM. Senator Robert Nichols continues to press Austin for financial assistance for our Texas lakes and reports that the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has given TPWD not greater than two months to draft a proposal on how funds appropriated to TPWD by the State of Texas can be allocated for APM in Texas lakes. These sources will certainly help ease the financial burden placed on the resources of Lake residents, businesses and SJRA, but will not eliminate the need for funds from the LCA.

The LCA will initiate its annual Fund Raising Campaign in May in an effort to replenish its depleted bank account and provide a fund for future, emergency needs should infestations of Hydrilla or Giant Salvinia need immediate attention. We do not desire to be in a position where funds are needed and the LCA cannot respond. The fund raising process takes about two months – much too long for any form of “immediate” response. We hope that you will consider to continue to support the LCA and its efforts to assist all Lake users. You will see fund raising correspondence in the mail shortly as we send letters to over 15,000 Lake residents and local businesses. I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank those 250+ contributors who responded to the LCA’s February, 2008 Emergency Fund Raising request which enabled the LCA to pay for this last batch of much-needed 32,000 White Amur added in March, 2008.

Again, thank you for your support of the LCA. The teamwork exhibited between residents, businesses, TPWD, SJRA, LCA, angling organizations, Montgomery County, State representatives and The Courier has enabled us to close in on reaching our goal of “40 acres or less of Hydrilla” and should serve as a guideline for other Texas lakes should they encounter infestations in the future. We hope you enjoy a beautiful Lake Conroe for years to come.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Just some quick information for those interested. Hoping you and your family made it through Hurricane Ike safely and with limited damage.

As you are probably aware, the dam on Lake Conroe suffered damage from Ike. Approximately 1,500 feet of the 12,000 foot length of the dam needs “spot repair” at an initial estimated cost of $1 million. Before any repair can commence, engineering design for the repair must be completed, bids must go out to qualified contractors and a final bid must be accepted by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board. The actual repairs will most likely commence by late-January and actual repair work is estimated to take 8 – 12 weeks. If the lake level must be lowered for repairs, SJRA does not see such an action occurring before late-January (with plenty of advance notification so that boat owners and lake area residents can prepare).

Based on the August, 2008 surveys performed by Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), our weed and plant acreages are as follows:

· Hydrilla….1.3 acres (down from 2.5 acres in June)

· Water Hyacinth…..67.9 acres (down from 106.4 acres in June)

· Giant Salvinia…..628.7 acres (up from 283.5 acres in June)

· Combined native plants…..140.0 acres (down from 151.5 acres in June)

It appears that the White Amur purchased for Hydrilla reduction are now eating Water Hyacinth. Giant Salvinia is currently being treated with herbicides by SJRA and a contractor hired by SJRA.

An estimated 90,000 White Amur grass carp remain alive in Lake Conroe at this time. While certain organizations have suggested that the ban on removing White Amur from Lake Conroe be removed, the TPWD official in charge of Lake Conroe’s Aquatic Plant Management Program (Dr. Earl Chilton) has stated that this “ban” will not be removed at this time. Dr. Chilton sited that Lake Conroe is still infested with Hydrilla tubers from the 2,100 acre infestation we experienced in 2007 and that the White Amur will prove beneficial once these tubers start to grow again in Spring, 2009 and beyond. Hydrilla tubers can live dormant in the lake bottom for up to 5 – 7 years.

The Annual Meeting of the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) will be held at the offices of SJRA on Friday, January 16, 2009 from 10AM to Noon. Among other topics, the Board of Directors for the LCA for the upcoming year will be elected. More information on this meeting will follow as the date approaches.

Thank you for listening and let us know how we can help. We can be reached at

www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Have you been enjoying the warm sun of Summer and open waters of Lake Conroe? I certainly hope so given the Lake conditions over the past two years. In a meeting last night of Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), anglers and the Lake Conroe Association (LCA), TPWD reported that Hydrilla has been reduced to a total of 2.5 acres based on its June, 2008 survey. What a change from the 2,033 acres reported as recently as January, 2008 !! The 103,883 White Amur grass carp estimated to be alive currently are certainly doing their job.

Regarding other “exotic, invasive plants” on our Lake, TPWD reported an increase of Giant Salvinia from 225 acres in July, 2007 to 283 acres in May, 2008. As Giant Salvinia grows so rapidly and White Amur do not particularly enjoy eating this plant, SJRA will continue to attack this plant through herbicide applications. TPWD also reported that Water Hyacinth decreased from 337 acres in July, 2007 to 106 acres in May, 2008. Given the reduction and that White Amur appear to be eating Water Hyacinth, herbicide treatments of Water Hyacinth will be ceased until an increasing trend is observed.

With July through September being the peak growing season for our various lake plants, TPWD will continue performing surveys to monitor and calculate the quantity of Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth in our Lake. Surveys will be performed in August and October, 2008. Should the current trend of “exotic, invasive plants” continue to decrease in 2008, TPWD estimates it will perform two (2) surveys in 2009. And while the survey results are very positive now, TPWD issued a “word of caution” that we need to continue to gather data to be sure Hydrilla doesn’t come back.

In the category of “not good news”, “native plants” have been reported to decrease from 1,077 acres in July, 2007 to 151 acres in May, 2008. As occurred in the early 1980’s, it appears that the White Amur are moving from the decimated Hydrilla population to our “native plants” as their source of nutrition (with Coontail, Joint Grass, Lilies and Lotus representing the “natives” currently left in the Lake). This is not good news for any lake. Learning from this specific Hydrilla infestation on Lake Conroe and the related treatment response, TPWD assured all that any future Hydrilla infestations on Lake Conroe warranting treatment would be “hit hard and hit early”. Utilizing a stocking rate of approximately 55 fish/acre early in the infestation, TPWD would hope to solve the infestation quickly, not infuse an excessive amount of White Amur and protect the “native” plants.

As a matter of definition, a significant distinction is made between plants referred to as “native” versus “exotic”. “Native” plants occur naturally in our ecosystem, and their expansion is kept in check by fish, insects, herbivores and invertebrates eating them as a food source in the overall food chain. “Exotic” plants have been brought in from elsewhere, and the ecosystem doesn’t reduce their expansion as they are not fed upon by these same fish, insects, herbivores and invertebrates. In effect, the growth and expansion of “exotic” plants goes unchecked until affected by outside forces (introduction of White Amur or herbicides).

It is important to understand the need for “native” plants in a lake. Most directly, “natives” help control erosion of shorelines, reduce silt flow from streams, filter and clarify water, provide excellent fish habitat, and provide for a healthy ecosystem to support water fowl and other wildlife. By providing these direct benefits, “native” plants indirectly contribute to a healthy local economy by encouraging tourism to our area for fishing, bird watching and the overall enjoyment of a healthy lake. The loss of “native” plants (as compared to the “exotic” plants we have fought so strongly) would be devastating to the Lake Conroe community.

As you may have already heard, TPWD, SJRA and anglers have initiated a program for re-vegetation and native plant restoration on Lake Conroe. Seven Coves Bass Club is an active leader in this program. “Native” plants are being grown in a controlled environment in our Lake with the objective of relocating them throughout the uninhabited shorelines of Lake Conroe when those nursery plants are mature enough to be moved. Three (3) primary categories of plants are being grown in this program as follows:

· Submergents (majority of plant is under the water) – Coontail, Water Primrose, Variable Leaf Milfoil and Wild Celery

· Emergents (majority of plant is out of the water) – Cattail, Bulrush, Sedge, Maiden Cane and Water Willow.

· Floating Leaved (leaves float on surface) – Spatterdock, Water Lily and American Lotus.

Only “native” plants are being used for this re-vegetation project, and only “natives” that are the most resistant to feeding by White Amur. In the approximate 800 Texas lakes over 75 surface acres each, TPWD reports that in no case did the “natives” create major problems. The LCA has requested contact information related to Property Owner Associations representing some of these 800 Texas lakes to ask about the success of these “native” plantings.

Specifics to this Lake Conroe 2008 re-vegetation project include:

· Not greater than 3 acres of “native” plants will be introduced over the next 5 – 10 years.

· TPWD hopes that these 3 acres will ultimately spread by seed production to approximately 10% of our Lake, or 2,000 acres.

· “Native” plants will be planted along uninhabited shoreline primarily North of the 1097 bridge. They will not plant in front of a residence.

· Should these “native” plants re-propagate in front of a residence, TPWD has agreed to issue permits to the lakefront owner so that the owner can hire a contractor to spray or otherwise eradicate the “natives” in front of the residence (at the expense of the resident). Should the problem be excessive or out-of-control, TPWD and SJRA have stated they may consider cost-sharing with the resident owner.

· It is unlikely that bulkheaded shoreline will re-propagate through seeds due to the excessive wave action and deeper water (“natives” like shallow water).

· The LCA has not been asked to share in the cost of this re-vegetation project.

The LCA has questioned TPWD’s goal of reaching 2,000 acres of “natives”. Lake Conroe is reported by anglers to have been an excellent fishing lake with the 1,077 acres of “natives” reported in July, 2007, so the LCA doesn’t understand a goal of 2,000 acres, or 10% of Lake Conroe’s surface acres. TPWD feels their goal is appropriate. As only 3 acres of “natives” are actually being planted and all further growth must occur over time by seed re-generation, the LCA feels it has stated its concern and will follow “native” growth throughout the future.

TPWD commits to continue the control of “exotic” plants on Lake Conroe (such as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth…..or any new “exotic” which may appear in our future). TPWD has assured the LCA that the presence of these newly planted “natives” will not be used as an excuse to avoid the use of White Amur in the future. TPWD points out that the Lake Conroe Aquatic Plant Management Plan called for 1) the reduction of Hydrilla to 40 acres or less by March, 2008 (which it did achieve by June, 2008), and 2) the continued establishment of a healthy “native” plant community. TPWD has asked the LCA and its Members for the support of this “native” plant re-vegetation project.

Having evaluated the information presented and the benefits of a healthy “native” plant population on Lake Conroe, and knowing the LCA will closely monitor the activities of this re-vegetation plan, the LCA and its Board of Directors has determined it supports the concept of the re-vegetation program as outlined (while expressing concern over certain plan specifics as noted above). No monies contributed by our LCA Members for the purchase of White Amur or herbicide applications will be contributed to this re-vegetation project, but rather those monies will be held by the LCA for future treatments of “exotic” plants when the need arises.

We hope that you, too, can get behind this re-vegetation program and concur that “native” plants are an important part of our Lake ecosystem and economy. We thank TPWD, SJRA and the angling community for their efforts so far regarding re-vegetation, and the LCA looks forward to working with them in the future. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback at www: lakeconroeassociation.com.

Thank you for listening. Enjoy a beautiful Summer on the Lake.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Cool, rainy conditions have dominated the January, 2008 weather scene. A total of 3.09 inches of rain fell in Conroe in January (compared to the average January rainfall of 4.21). The Lake level has increased from 200.47 feet above sea level on January 1 to 201.02 feet today. Please find the following information for your review:

FEBRUARY 5 MEETING WITH TPWD, SJRA, LCA AND ANGLERS:

Today, very disturbing and disappointing news was released by TPWD. In Hydrilla’s slowest growing season (the winter) and with our largest quantity of White Amur (82,000 alive White Amur), Hydrilla infested acres grew from 1,940 in December, 2007 to 2,050 in January, 2008. Don’t be misled by Hydrilla’s lack of surface coverage….IT’S GROWING MORE THAN EVER AND MAY BE WORSE THIS SUMMER THAN LAST. TPWD stated that “We did not expect these results.” An independent consultant involved with Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation for the past two years stated “An increase in Hydrilla during the winter with 82,000 White Amur eating Hydrilla at a rate of 42 fish/acre is an ominous sign.” TPWD’s next scheduled survey is March, 2008.

Specific to these surveys, Caney Creek increased by 146 acres while Little Lake Creek and Lewis Creek decreased by 19 and 17 acres, respectively. The northern Cagle/Stubblefield area remained the same. TPWD reported that Hydrilla is growing an average of 2 feet tall in waters less than 8 feet deep, and is growing an average of 4 to 5 feet tall in waters greater than 8 feet deep.

As its proposed plan to address this Hydrilla increase, TPWD agreed to permit the addition of 24,000 White Amur…..increasing the White Amur stocking rate from 42 fish/acre to 50 fish/acre. TPWD has taken a “measured approach” since the two-year Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan was initiated. This “measured approach” was adopted, in large part, to avoid overstocking the Lake with White Amur and damaging native vegetation in the Lake. Since Hydrilla has only continued to increase throughout TPWD’s “measured approach”, TPWD has increased their stocking rate of fish/acre from 9 to 14 to 22 to 29 to 36 to 40 to 42, and now, to 50. Where and when will this end?

The LCA listened to TPWD’s presentation as well as the opinions of SJRA, the independent consultant and angling organizations. Upon processing all of this new information, the LCA determined IT DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS PROPOSAL. While the LCA does not hold a specific scientific basis for its proposal, the LCA requested that TPWD modify the stocking rate to 60 fish/acre….which would require TPWD to permit the addition of 40,000 White Amur. As no one truly knows the number of White Amur it will take to reduce Hydrilla to “40 acres or less” (I’ve removed the “by March, 2008” in TPWD and SJRA’s Management Plan as it won’t happen) while not significantly damaging native vegetation, the LCA believes a more aggressive approach is necessary NOW.

To summarize a few of the LCA’s opinions used in presenting our proposal of increasing the stocking rate to 60 fish/acre and disagreeing with TPWD’s proposal of 50 fish/acre, please find the following:

· Spring growing season will soon be upon us. This stocking represents the last opportunity to get the fish in the Lake before spring arrives. Fish stocked later in the year may not be large enough and appetite-aggressive enough to provide value in 2008.

· Given Hydrilla has increased from 470 acres to 2,050 acres as TPWD has added White Amur with a “measured approach” over the past 2 years, their approach hasn’t worked and a more aggressive approach is appropriate.

· TPWD has based their stocking permits based on the historic scientific data they have gathered from Texas lakes and other research. For some unknown reason, that science has not seemed to apply to Lake Conroe. A departure from that science seems appropriate.

· TPWD would be the first to tell you that they don’t know the correct number of White Amur it will take to control our Hydrilla infestation. Can we risk erring on the conservative side and having to add even more fish down the road?

· As stated by one attendee of today’s meeting, “Throw out science at this point and go with what we’ve experienced on Lake Conroe for two years.”

· As stated by the independent consultant today, “When old science doesn’t work, it becomes time to venture into the world of new science.”

· The potential of enduring a third consecutive year of serious Hydrilla infestation on Lake Conroe is unacceptable. If we thought having a 1,780 acre infestation in July, 2007 was bad, how will we feel about the hypothetical infestation of 3,000 acres this summer?

· And if we reach that hypothetical infestation of 3,000 acres, how many White Amur and herbicides will it take to solve the problem? And who will be expected to pay the enormous future cost of clean-up?

To this end, WE IMPLORE TPWD AND SJRA TO AGREE TO PERMIT THE STOCKING OF 40,000 WHITE AMUR AT THIS TIME AS REQUESTED BY THE LCA.

JANUARY WHITE AMUR RELEASE:

15,775 White Amur were released the week of January 21. This release represents a “mortality stocking” (meaning a replacement of the estimated number of fish which have died since the last mortality stocking) and not an increase in the number of White Amur per hydrilla infested acre. The White Amur were released as follows: 2,100 Little Lake Creek, 7,575 Lewis Creek, 2,100 Caney Creek and 4,000 Cagle/Stubblefield. The cost of these White Amur was $5.00/fish, and the cost was shared 50/50 between SJRA and the LCA.

WHITE AMUR CALCULATION:

Based on White Amur stockings to date and the estimated mortality rate of these fish of 32% per year, we would calculate that 102,000 have been placed in the Lake since 2006 and that 20,000 of these fish have died (through illness, predation by larger fish or predation by various species of birds on the Lake). This would leave 82,000 White Amur feeding upon 1,940 hydrilla infested acres, or 42 fish/acre, through December, 2007.

TPWD HYDRILLA SURVEY:

TPWD concluded its January, 2008 hydrilla survey and reported an estimated 2,052 acres of hydrilla infestation on the Lake. Previous surveys have been as follows:

· 1999….20 acres

· 2001…..80 acres

· 2004…..150 acres

· March, 2006…..470 acres

· July, 2006…..740 acres

· September, 2006…..1,200 acres

· March, 2007…..1,900 acres

· May, 2007…..1,380 acres

· July, 2007…..1,780 acres

· December, 2007…..1,940 acres

· January, 2008…..2,050 acres

NATIVE VEGETATION BEING PLANTED IN LAKE CONROE:

TPWD and SJRA have been establishing native vegetation (those plants native, but not invasive, to the Texas ecosystem) in Lake Conroe for over ten (10) years now. TPWD performs in-depth surveys to determine the quantity and type of native vegetation in the Lake to identify positive or negative trends. The Seven Coves Bass Club is a new partner in this program re-establishing native vegetation.

Most, if not all, of the plantings are done in the upper end of the Lake. The only exception to this policy would be where a homeowner group in the lower end of the Lake specifically requested plantings in their area. In questioning TPWD and SJRA about plantings in the lower end, I received this response: “Regarding planting vegetation in the lower areas of the reservoir, it would have to be a case where there is a substantial number of homeowners (or a substantial amount of shoreline owned by a few property owners) who want plants established in front of their property. In that case, we would work with the homeowners regarding establishment (species planted, cages, etc.). Otherwise, plantings will be conducted around the National Forest.”

The primary plant utilized for these plantings has been Vallisneria Americana (more commonly referred to as “tape grass”). TPWD, in conjunction with SJRA and the Corps of Engineers Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, have been planting Vallisneria in Lake Conroe for over ten (10) years. TPWD states that “Although Vallisneria is established in Lake Conroe, it has caused no problems.” TPWD also sites research performed by Dr. Richard Ott (and his Doctoral) which involved the ability of Vallisneria to aid in limiting Hydrilla establishment.

Further comments from TPWD include: “Native vegetation is good for aquatic ecosystems. Native plants help prevent erosion, stabilize banks, clear the water, improve water quality, and improve fish and wildlife habitat without creating major access problems like Hydrilla does.”

In questioning TPWD about the timing of working towards native vegetation plantings BEFORE the Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia infestations are under control, TPWD responded: “The development of a healthy native plant community is not contingent on reaching our goals for Hydrilla. In fact, as we have talked about before, there is evidence that a healthy native plant community can help slow the spread of Hydrilla.” It would be correct that the Aquatic Management Plan for Lake Conroe for the two (2) years ending March, 2008 states goals of “reducing Hydrilla to 40 acres or less by March, 2008” AND establishing a healthy native plant community.

When asked who would pay for clean-up if native plantings got out-of-control and became invasive, TPWD responded “TPWD will not ask the LCA for any money to clean-up native vegetation. Except in very limited areas, it has been our experience that native vegetation simply does not create the same problems created by Hydrilla.”

What does the LCA think about all of this? Among our concerns are the introduction of plants which may become invasive. During previous attempts to establish native vegetation on Lake Conroe, both Musk Grass and Southern Naiad (bushy pondweed) were present as either plants and/or seeds in the transplant materials. These pioneer species benefited from the protected environment of cages and spread very rapidly. It is arguable that further native plantings may have similar unintended consequences. If you’ve had either Musk Grass or Bushy Pondweed around your lakefront, you can attest to the invasive nature of these plants and the detriment caused to navigation, aesthetics and lake use.

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SUMMARY OF LCA ANNUAL MEETING

Held January 18, 2008

LCA MEMBER VOTE ON 2008 LCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

We’d like to thank our Members for their active participation in returning proxies for 2008 LCA Board of Director elections. Of the 1,072 proxies mailed to our Members, 319 completed proxies were received (far more than last year and more than enough for a valid election per the LCA By-Laws). The LCA Board accepted your nominations and presents its 2008 LCA Board of Directors as follows: Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead and Sue Wheatley.

LCA OFFICER ELECTIONS:

Subsequent to the LCA Annual Meeting and its Directors being elected, the LCA Board voted on its 2008 Officers. The following Directors accepted those nominations as follows: Mike Bleier (President), Ben Richardson (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

AUDIT OF LCA:

The LCA has selected a local accounting firm to prepare an audit of the records of the LCA for the period September 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The estimated cost of this audit is $2,000, and the LCA Board felt it was money well spent to assure its Members that their contributions of over $400,000 during this period were handled properly.

Unaudited, internally-prepared financial statements for CY2006 and CY2007 reflect Member Contributions of $404,000 less $355,000 in Expenses (producing a net increase in cash of $49,000 during these two years). Expenses consisted of $253,000 for White Amur, $71,000 for Herbicide Treatments, $26,000 for Fund Raising Printing/Postage and $5,000 for Administrative Expenses (legal fees, insurance, tax preparation). We are very pleased that Administrative Expenses totaled only 1.2% of all Member Contributions. No salaries are paid by the LCA as all Officers and Directors operate on a volunteer basis.

HERBICIDE TREATMENTS:

In its somewhat dormant state throughout Winter, Hydrilla is not treated with herbicides. While Water Hyacinth can still be seen around the Lake, it is not treated during Winter months because it’s green growth will die in cold conditions. And, since Water Hyacinth reproduces through seeds thrown off by those “pretty purple flowers”, herbicide applications will do nothing to harm those seeds on the Lake bottom which can live and produce new plants for up to the next seven (7) years. Since Giant Salvinia can survive the cold Winter temperatures and reproduces through exponential leaf regeneration and fragmentation, this invasive species will be treated with herbicides during the Winter; but effective treatment can only occur on sunny, calm days (not too many of those so far).

FUND RAISING FROM OTHER-THAN-YOU:

We have seen no funding from the State of Texas. TPWD stated that funding applications totaling $150,000 have been completed by TPWD and are “sitting on desks” waiting for approval and funding. We’ll see.

Montgomery County commits $25,000 per year for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe and increased that one-time to $100,000 last year. In talking to members of Commissioners Court, the LCA has been asked to continue to provide Commissioners Court with updates on the Lake condition and funding needs for 2008. Until Spring, 2008 surveys are concluded and the level of Hydrilla infestation is determined, the LCA does not see additional funding from Montgomery County as feasible. Should the worse scenario come true and Hydrilla infestation return aggressively in the Spring, I’m confident that Judge Sadler, Commissioner Meador and the other Commissioners will appropriate funds beyond their $25,000 commitment.

The LCA regularly communicates with Senator Nichols and Representative Creighton to apprise them of the situation and the need for State funding sources. I find them very attentive to the situation and determined to identify State funds to assist with our various invasive weed infestations.

No Federal funding has been obtained.

OTHER DISCUSSION TOPICS:

In addition to the above, the following topics were discussed at the LCA Annual Meeting (and are addressed above in this Update):

· Native grasses being planted in Lake Conroe

· White Amur stockings and mortality

· Angler organizations and their position in this issue

· Expectations for February 5 meeting between TPWD, SJRA, LCA and angling organizations

Thank you for your perseverance in following the significant quantity of information provided in this Update. I will report back with you shortly once a decision is made by TPWD and SJRA on the LCA’s proposal for 40,000 White Amur. We very much appreciate your support.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

This brief update summarizes the LCA’s efforts and findings in reviewing Texas Parks & Wildlife’s (TPWD) May, 2007 Hydrilla survey.

Since TPWD released its survey information on June 14, 2007 which estimated a total of 1,380 infested Hydrilla acres, the LCA has endeavored to better understand the survey results. LCA Board Member Ben Richardson and his Dad, Dana, toured Little Lake Creek (primarily covering the infestations of Bentwater, Laketree and Grand Harbor) in their personal boat on June 15. Ben and I, along with the SJRA, toured Caney Creek via SJRA airboat on June 22. On that same day, SJRA and I toured Little Lake Creek for a further view of this highly infested area. On June 23, I toured Lewis Creek (to the best of my ability without getting stuck) in my personal boat. A helicopter flyover of the Lake was delayed last week due to lightning and storm concerns over most available days, and this flyover is trying to be rescheduled for next week. Local residents have also provided numerous reports on what they observed this week from their watercraft and lakefront property.

TPWD provided detailed maps of the heavily infested acreage and the estimated number of infested acres for each location. We checked their math, and understand where they arrived at their total of 1,380 infested acres.

With all of the above being said, there is no way for the LCA to concur with or refute TPWD’s estimate of 1,380 acres. Once on the Lake, the ability to discern a 10 acre infestation from a 20 acre infestation by sight is virtually impossible. Obviously, the same difficulty applies to 100 acre infestations. TPWD makes its assessments utilizing GPS (Global Positioning System) and measures the area by establishing the four corners (or even more coordinates where appropriate) of the infestation. We did not have a GPS system with us in any of the LCA trips on the Lake this week.

So, what can the LCA say? We definitively observed Hydrilla infested acreage that has been reduced by White Amur (and where no herbicides have been applied in 2007). Most of this activity was observed at the deeper edges of the infestation and not in the shallow waters near shores or boat docks. We further observed significant Hydrilla reduction in certain deeper areas where a combination of White Amur and herbicides appear to be making a difference. And, where SJRA has performed Hydrilla herbicide applications in the past ten (10) days, we certainly saw signs of Hydrilla reduction (as would be expected for the monies being spent on herbicides). SJRA and TPWD will be continuing their herbicide applications to shallower waters this coming week.

There is not much more to say at this time. Trying to utilize GPS in the coming week would not prove too valuable because the measurable benefits of White Amur versus herbicides would be difficult, at best, to verify with accuracy (remember, the May, 2007 survey was done PRIOR TO Hydrilla herbicide applications). TPWD will be performing its next survey in July, 2007, and the LCA will have representatives on the boat to ask questions about each infestation. Since this survey commences in 2 – 3 weeks, we feel this is the best method to review the infestation going forward.

I’m pleased to see progress by the White Amur, and believe that the White Amur will be the solution to our problem for 2008. For our beautiful Summer months of 2007, I can also see that herbicide applications are a MUST if we are to enjoy the use of our Lake. As always, we are open to your feedback on the weed infestations of Lake Conroe; and we are greatly appreciative of your donations to the 2007 LCA Fund Raising Campaign which have totaled approximately $100,000 during the past six (6) weeks. Thank you for your time in reviewing this Update. Enjoy your week.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

This Update will cover two (2) significant topics; namely, LCA’s Annual Meeting for its Members held today and yesterday’s Advisory Committee Meeting held to provide input on the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

Our Annual Meeting was held today at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority. General information was provided to the attendees and questions were answered. A financial report was presented which summarized Income and Expense for the LCA for calendar year 2006. LCA Member voting was also completed (in conjunction with proxies submitted by Members through the mail) on the election of the 2007 LCA Board of Directors and proposed LCA By-Law revisions.

A brief summary of the LCA’s 2006 Cash Flow Statement (unaudited at this point) is listed as follows:

CASH, January 1, 2006 $24,989

Add 2006 Income:

Donations 205,634

Tee Shirt Sales and Interest Income 3,466

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Total Income 209,100 209,100

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Deduct 2006 Expenses:

White Amur Purchases 72,266

Fund Raising (Printing/Postage) 15,904

Administrative 2,372

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Total Expenses 90,542 (90,542)

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CASH, December 31, 2006 $143,547

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It should be noted that “Cash” at December 31, 2006 includes monies invested in Money Market Accounts earning interest at 4.7%. We are also pleased to report that our Administrative Expenses of $2,372 represent only 1% of our 2006 Total Income of $209,100 (primarily due to Directors working exclusively on a volunteer basis).

We would very much like to thank our 950+ Members for their generosity in our 2006 Fund Raising Campaign. And, while our $143,547 Cash Balance at December 31, 2006 is substantial, we must point out that the cost of successfully controlling hydrilla, giant salvinia and water hyacinth in 2007 may far outweigh our current funds. Accordingly, LCA Fund Raising diligently continues in 2007 from residents, businesses, and Federal, State and County sources.

With voting tabulated, we are pleased to announce your 2007 LCA Board of Directors as follows: Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead, Bernie Walling, Conrad Weil and Sue Wheatley (13 in all). Further, the LCA proposed changes to the LCA By-Laws were passed. A total of 259 proxies were received from our Members, or approximately 27% of the LCA Membership.

Subsequent to LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board conducted its Meeting to elect its Officers for 2007. Your 2007 LCA Officers are Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING ON 2007 LAKE CONROE AQUATIC VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) (the two “Cooperators” under the Plan) held a Meeting yesterday at the offices of SJRA to discuss the Preliminary 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. Seventeen (17) individuals representing residents, businesses and anglers (collectively referred to as “Stakeholders”) were invited to join TPWD and SJRA in comprising the 2007 Advisory Committee. A “draft” of the 2007 Plan was submitted to the Stakeholders, and comments were solicited. Much feedback was shared amongst the attendees, and this feedback will be utilized by the Cooperators to develop the next Draft of the 2007 Plan. The 2007 Advisory Committee will meet again in approximately three (3) weeks to review all changes made to the Plan, and final comments will be shared prior to the Cooperators issuing the Final 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

To briefly summarize where we stood at the end of 2006, the October, 2006 hydrilla survey conducted by TPWD estimated a total of 1,167 hydrilla infested acres. Grass carp called “White Amur” which have a particular appetite for hydrilla were re-introduced into Lake Conroe during 2006 in three (3) stockings, and an estimated 27,046 White Amur were feeding in Lake Conroe by year’s end. These stockings approximate a rate of twenty-three (23) white amur per infested hydrilla acre.

A particular concern for 2007 has been the status of 2,600 acres of lakebed which was dry during the Summer of 2006. Some portion of these 2,600 acres were infested with hydrilla in 2005, and the likelihood that they become re-infested now that the Lake has risen to its normal level again is high.

Having provided this brief background, please find my notes on key points discussed in the Advisory Committee Meeting yesterday (in no order of significance):

TPWD conducted a survey in January, 2007 of the previously dry lakebed in an effort to quantify the number of acres infested with hydrilla since the Lake rose to its standard level of 201 feet above sea level. They estimated that 700 acres of this previously dry lakebed has initiated hydrilla re-growth through “tubers” that can survive dry conditions for reportedly up to seven (7) years.
TPWD proposed to permit the addition of 10,000 White Amur in February, 2007 to proactively address these newly infested acres and the ongoing mortality of the 27,046 White Amur introduced in 2006 (White Amur have an estimated mortality of 30% annually). The LCA applauds this proactive approach by the Cooperators. The cost of these White Amur will be shared equally by SJRA and the LCA, and TPWD has waived its $2/fish permitting fee for 2007 (and, hopefully, beyond).
TPWD proposes to conduct its next lake-wide aquatic vegetation survey in March, 2007. Should this survey conclude that hydrilla growth is not being reduced as expected by cool Winter water temperatures and the hydrilla-eating White Amur introduced during 2006, additional White Amur would be permitted and added during April, 2007 (always subject to availability from the hatcheries).
Similar aquatic vegetation surveys would be conducted in May, 2007, July, 2007 and September, 2007. If deemed necessary by the Cooperators, additional White Amur would be added in the month after each survey.
Should hydrilla growth exceed forecasts based on historic data, TPWD may consider raising the stocking rate of White Amur from 23 fish/acre to a higher number/acre.
As in the 2006 Plan, the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of hydrilla-infested acres to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”. The Cooperators and Stakeholders are all committed to achieving this goal, and are prepared to stock additional White Amur as needed to reach this goal. To supplement the budget available to SJRA for aquatic plant management, the LCA has committed to raise whatever monies are necessary to achieve the goal of “40 acres or less by March, 2008”. Once the goal of reducing hydrilla to “40 acres or less” is accomplished, the ongoing plan will be to keep hydrilla permanently below 40 acres. It should be further noted that “40 acres or less” of hydrilla is intended to remain primarily in the uninhabited, northern portion of the Lake and not in the highly populated used southern portion of the Lake.
The Cooperators are considering further herbicide treatments in March or April, 2007 to attack, in particular, the new hydrilla growing in the previously dry lakebed. Herbicides can be very effective at reducing hydrilla tuber regeneration. The use of herbicides on hydrilla is often criticized as a “waste of money” since they typically only “burn back” the growth and do not “kill” the hydrilla plant. Successful hydrilla treatment proposals typically present a dual approach of White Amur coupled with herbicides. Think of it this way…..if the herbicides can reduce the overall biomass of hydrilla in the Lake (even temporarily), then the White Amur have less hydrilla to consume and can reduce the total hydrilla to a more acceptable level more quickly. Herbicide treatments for hydrilla beyond April, 2007 are also a possibility.
Regarding the question “Are any of the 27,046 White Amur still alive?”, there is no evidence to the contrary. White Amur were not seen dying upon introduction into the Lake. There have not been reports of dead, floating White Amur on the surface or shores of our Lake. The 12 – 14 inch White Amur were large enough at introduction to the Lake to avoid significant predication by large bass or other fish. The real truth to this question will not be known until detailed surveys are completed in March and May, 2007, and results show the success or failure of the White Amur to reduce our hydrilla infestation.
TPWD estimates that Giant Salvinia covers between 150 – 300 acres of our Lake through a diverse spread of small infestations (and an estimated 40 acre infestation in Little Lake Creek). Giant Salvinia can double in size every 2 -3 days, and is a far more serious problem than hydrilla if not controlled. The Cooperators plan to continue the treatment of Giant Salvinia through their dual approach of herbicides and biological controls (weevils). The 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of Giant Salvinia to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.
It was noted in our Meeting that many lake users may not know that White Amur are protected in our State. In the event that you inadvertently catch a White Amur, you are obligated by law to “catch and release”. Game Wardens on Lake Conroe are aware of this law and actively checking fishing boats for White Amur. Should you be found guilty of catching (and not releasing immediately) White Amur on Lake Conroe, you will be subject to significant fines and other penalties.
Are you seeing significant quantities of hydrilla washing up on your shore? It’s appearance may look like what many commonly refer to as “sea weed” (long, thin strands….not as bright green as in the Summer….and lacking the leaf quantity as in the Summer). Chances are that this IS hydrilla which has been damaged during our Winter storms. Hydrilla has a natural “die back” during the winter and becomes less healthy. Our rise in Lake level and fierce storm waves have damaged much hydrilla so far this Winter, and many shorelines are covered with this “mess”. Most likely, you’re seeing hydrilla stems that have broken loose from underwater hydrilla “mats”, and this debris will rot and disappear eventually. Some portion of this fragmented hydrilla can “root” later.
The rains have pounded us once again. As an FYI, the highest Lake level this week reached a level of 202.86 feet (above sea level). SJRA is actively letting water out of the dam to reach its mandated level of 201.0 feet. Today’s Lake level is 201.97 feet.
The LCA has recommended Public Meetings in 2007 to keep everyone abreast of the Lake infestation. We felt that our Public Meeting in 2006 was a necessary tool to keep you informed and give you a forum to voice your concerns. Dates have not yet been set for these Meetings.

That’s it for now. We’ll provide additional information as it comes to us. Thank you for supporting the LCA and taking an active interest in the health of our Lake Conroe.

Mike

BYLAWS OF

LAKE CONROE ASSOCIATION

A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION

Article I. Offices

Section One. Principal Office. The principal office of the corporation in the State of Texas shall be located in the County of Montgomery.

Section Two. Other Offices. The corporation may have such other offices, either within or without the County of Montgomery, State of Texas, as the Board of Directors may determine or as the affairs of the corporation may require from time to time.

Article II. Members

Section One. Classes of Members. The Corporation may have multiple classes of Members. The qualifications for membership shall be redefined or reaffirmed by the Board of Directors at each annual meeting.

Section Two. Election of Members. Members shall be elected by the Board of Directors. An affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Directors shall be required for election. New Members shall be elected at the Board meeting that follows qualification.

Section Three. Voting Rights. Each Member shall be entitled to one vote on each matter submitted to a vote of the Members.

Section Four. Termination of Membership. The Board of Directors, by affirmative vote of two-thirds of all of the members of the Board, may suspend or expel a Member for cause after an appropriate hearing, and by a majority vote of those present at any regularly constituted meeting, may terminate the membership of any Member who becomes ineligible for membership, or suspend or expel any Member who shall be in default in the payment of dues for the period fixed in Article IX of these bylaws.

Section Five. Resignation. A Member shall be considered to have resigned if that Member fails to pay the annual dues.

Section Six. Reinstatement. Membership in this corporation is not transferrable or assignable.

Article III. Meetings of Members

Section One. Annual Meeting. An annual meeting of the Members shall be held in Montgomery County, Texas, on the third Friday of January of each year, for the purpose of electing Directors and for the transaction of such other business as may come before the meeting. If the day fixed for the annual meeting shall be a legal holiday in the State of Texas, such meeting may be held on the next succeeding business day. If the election of Directors shall not be held on the day designated herein for any annual meeting, or at any adjournment thereof, the Board of Directors shall cause the election to be held at a special meeting of the Members as soon thereafter as conveniently may be scheduled.

Section Two. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Members may be called by the President, the Board of Directors, or not less than one-tenth of the Members having voting rights.

Section Three. Place of Meeting. The Board of Directors may designate any place, either within or without the State of Texas, as the place of meeting for any annual meeting for any special meeting called by the Board of Directors. If no designation is made or if a special meeting be otherwise called, the place of the meeting shall be the registered office of the corporation in the State of Texas; but if all of the Members shall meet at any time and place, either within or without the State of Texas, and consent to the holding of the meeting, such meeting shall be valid without call or notice, and at such meeting any corporate action may be taken.

Section Four. Notice of Meetings. Written or printed notice stating the place, day and hour of any meeting of Members shall be delivered, either personally or by postal or electronic mail (email), to each member entitled to vote at such meeting, not less than ten days or more than 50 days before the date of the meeting, by or at the direction of the president, or the secretary, or the officers or persons calling the meeting. In case of a special meeting or when required by statute or by these bylaws, the purpose or purposes for which the meeting is called shall be stated in the notice. If mailed, the notice of a meeting shall be deemed delivered when deposited in the United States mail, addressed to the Member at his address as it appears on the records of the corporation, with postage thereon prepaid.

Section Five. Informal Action by Members. Any action required by law to be taken at a meeting of the members, or any action that may be taken at a meeting of Members, may be taken without a meeting if a consent, in writing, setting forth the action to be taken, shall be signed by all Members entitled to vote with respect to the subject matter thereof.

Section Six. Quorum. The presence, either in person or by proxy, at any meeting of at least 10% (ten percent) of the total membership shall constitute a quorum. In the absence of a quorum, a majority of those Members present in person or by proxy, or a majority of the Board of Directors, may adjourn or continue the meeting without further notice. A quorum of Directors shall be defined as 33% of the then approved Directors, or a minimum of 3, whichever is greater.

Section Seven. Proxies. At any meeting of Members, a Member entitled to vote may vote by proxy executed in writing by the Member or his duly authorized attorney in fact. No proxy shall be valid after eleven months from the date of execution, unless otherwise provided in the proxy.

Section Eight. Voting by Mail. Where Directors or Officers are to be elected by members, such election may be conducted by mail in such manner as the Board of Directors shall determine, regardless of the number of Members who vote.

Section Nine. Cumulative Voting. Cumulative voting is not permitted.

Article IV. Board of Directors

Section One. General Powers. The affairs of the corporation shall be managed by its Board of Directors. Directors need not be members of the Corporation.

Section Two. Number, Tenure, and Qualifications. The number of Directors shall be not less than three nor more than 14. Each Director shall hold office until the next annual meeting of Members and until his successor shall have been elected and qualified.

Section Three. Regular Meetings. A regular annual meeting of the Board of Directors shall be held without other notice than this bylaw, immediately after, and at the same place, as the annual meeting of Members. The Board of Directors may provide by resolution the time and place, either within or without the State of Texas, for the holding of additional regular meetings of the Board without other notice than such resolution.

Section Four. Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Board of Directors may be called by or at the request of the President or any two directors. The person or persons authorized to call special meetings of the Board may fix any place, either within or without the state, as the place for holding any special meeting of the board called by them.

Written, printed, or electronic mail (email) notice of any special meeting of the Board will be delivered to each Director not less than seven (7) nor more than thirty (30) days before the date of the meeting. The notice will state the place, day, and time of the meeting; who called it; and the purpose or purposes for which it is called.

If the President of the Board of Directors so elects, voting on any one specific action can be done via email without convening a meeting of the Board. All members of the Board must receive the email initiating the proposal requiring a vote; a quorum must vote on the matter. A printed record of all votes shall be retained and the record of the votes shall be included in the minutes of the next regularly convened Board meeting.

Section Five. Nominating and Electing Directors. A Nominating Committee will be appointed by the President of the Board of Directors to prepare a slate of candidates for the next annual meeting. Directors will be elected during the annual meeting of Members except as provided in Article IV, Section Eight.

Section Six. Quorum. A quorum of Directors is defined in Article II, Section Six and is to be used for transacting business at any board meeting. The Directors present at a duly called or held meeting at which a quorum is present may continue to transact business even if enough directors leave the meeting so that less than a quorum remains. However, no action may be approved without the vote of at least the number of Directors required for a quorum. If a quorum is never present at any time during a meeting, a majority of the Directors present may adjourn and reconvene the meeting once without further notice.

Section Seven. Actions of Board of Directors; Proxies. The vote of a majority of Directors present and voting at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the board of directors, unless the act of a greater number is required by law or by these bylaws. At any meeting of directors, a Director entitled to vote may vote by proxy executed in writing by the director or by his duly authorized attorney in fact. No proxy is valid after two (2) months from the date of its execution, unless otherwise provided in the proxy.

Section Eight. Vacancies. Any vacancy occurring in the Board of Directors shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining Directors though less than a quorum of the Board of Directors. A Director elected to fill a vacancy shall be elected for the unexpired term of his predecessor in office.

Any Directorship to be filled by reason of an increase in the number of Directors shall be filled by election at an annual meeting, or at a special meeting of Members called for that purpose. If no members have the right to vote thereon, the Directorship shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining Directors though less than a quorum of the Board of Directors.

Section Nine. Compensation. Directors as such shall not receive any stated salaries for their services, but by resolution of the Board of Directors, any Director may be indemnified for expenses and costs, including attorney’s fees, actually and necessarily incurred by him in connection with any claim asserted against him, by action in court or otherwise, by reason of his being or having been such Director, except in relation to matters as to which he shall have been guilty of negligence or misconduct in respect of the matter in which indemnity is sought. The corporation is required to carry a Directors’ “errors and omissions” liability policy which will cover such indemnification.

Article V. Officers

Section One. Officers. The Officers of the corporation shall be a President, one or more Vice-presidents, the number thereof to be determined by the Board of Directors, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and such other Officers as may be elected in accordance with the provisions of this article. The Board of Directors may elect or appoint such other Officers, including one or more Assistant Secretaries, and one or more Assistant Treasurers, as it shall deem desirable, such Officers to have the authority and perform the duties prescribed, from time to time, by the Board of Directors. Any two or more offices may be held by the same person, except the offices of President and Secretary.

Section Two. Election and Term of Office. The Officers of the Corporation shall be elected annually by the Board of Directors at the regular annual meeting of the Board of Directors. If the election of Officers shall not be held at such meeting, such election shall be held as soon thereafter as conveniently may be. New Offices may be created and filled at any meeting of the Board of Directors. Each Officer shall hold office until his successor shall have been duly elected and shall have been qualified.

Section Three. Removal. Any Officer elected or appointed by the Board of Directors may be removed by the Board of Directors whenever in its judgment the best interests of the Corporation would be served thereby, but such removal shall be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the Officer so removed.

Section Four. Vacancies. A vacancy in any office, because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, or otherwise, may be filled by the Board of Directors for the unexpired portion of the term.

Section Five. President. The President shall be the principal executive officer of the Corporation and shall, in general, supervise and control all of the business and affairs of the Corporation. He shall preside at all meetings of the Members and of the Board of Directors. He may sign, with the Secretary or any other proper Officer of the Corporation authorized by the Board of Directors, any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, or other instruments that the Board of Directors have authorized to be executed, except in cases where the signing and execution thereof shall be expressly delegated by the Board of Directors or by these bylaws or by statute to some other Officer or Agent of the Corporation; and, in general, he shall perform all duties incident to the office of President and such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors from time to time.

Section Six. Vice-President. In the absence of the President or in the event of his inability or refusal to act, the Vice-presidents in the order of their election shall perform the duties of the President, and when so acting, shall have all the powers of and be subject to all the restrictions on the President. Any Vice-president shall perform such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Section Seven. Treasurer. If required by the Board of Directors, the Treasurer shall give a bond for the faithful discharge of his duties in such sum and with such surety or sureties as the board of Directors shall determine. He shall have charge and custody of and be responsible for all funds and securities of the Corporation; receive and give receipts for moneys due and payable to the Corporation from any source whatsoever, and deposit all such moneys in the name of the Corporation in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as shall be selected by the Board of Directors; and, in general, perform all the duties incident to the Office of Treasurer and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Section Eight. Secretary. The Secretary shall keep the minutes of the meetings of the Members and of the Board of Directors in one or more books provided for that purpose; see that all notices are duly given in accordance with the provisions of these bylaws or as required by law; be custodian of the Corporate records and of the seal of the Corporation. and see that the seal of the Corporation is affixed to documents, the execution of which on behalf of the Corporation under its seal is duly authorized in accordance with the provisions of these bylaws; keep a register of the post-office address and electronic mail address of each member which shall be furnished to the secretary by such Member; and in general perform all duties incident to the Office of Secretary and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him by the President or the Board of Directors.

Section Nine. Assistant Treasurers and Assistant Secretaries. If required by the Board of Directors, the Assistant Treasurers shall give bonds for the faithful discharge of their duties in such sums and with such sureties as the Board of Directors shall determine. The Assistant Treasurers and Assistant Secretaries, in general, shall perform such duties as shall be assigned to them by the Treasurer or the Secretary or by the President or by the Board of Directors.

Article VI. Committees

Section One. Committee of Directors. The Board of Directors, by resolution adopted by a majority of the Directors in office, may designate one or more Committees, each of which shall consist of two or more Directors, which Committees, to the extent provided in said resolution, shall have and exercise the authority of the Board of Directors in the management of the Corporation; but the designation of such Committees and the delegation thereto of authority shall not operate to relieve the Board of Directors, or any individual Director, or any responsibility imposed on it or him by law.

A Committee duly designated may perform the functions of any officer and the functions of any two or more Officers may be performed by a single Committee, including the functions of both President and Secretary.

Section Two. Other Committees. Other Committees not having and exercising the authority of the Board of Directors in the management of the corporation may be designated by a resolution adopted by a majority of the Directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present. Except as otherwise provided in such resolution, members of each such Committee shall be Members of the Corporation, and the President of the Corporation shall appoint the Chairperson(s) thereof. The President of the Corporation or the Committee Chairperson(s) may appoint the Committee Members.

Section Three. Term of Office. Each Member of a Committee shall continue as such until the next annual meeting of the Members of the Corporation and until his successor is appointed, unless the Committee shall be sooner terminated, or unless such Member be removed from such Committee, or unless such Member shall cease to qualify as a Member thereof.

Section Four. Chairman. One Member of each Committee shall be appointed chairman by the person or persons authorized to appoint the Members thereof.

Section Five. Vacancies. Vacancies in the Membership of any Committee may be filled by appointments made in the same manner as provided in the case of the original appointments.

Section Six. Quorum. Unless otherwise provided in the resolution of the Board of Directors designating a committee, a majority of the whole committee shall constitute a quorum and the act of a majority of the Members present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the Committee.

Section Seven. Rules. Each Committee may adopt rules for its own government not inconsistent with these bylaws or with rules adopted by the Board of Directors.

Article VII. Contracts, Checks, Deposits, and Funds.

Section One. Contracts. The Board of Directors may authorize any Officer or Officers, Agent or Agents of the Corporation, in addition to the Officers so authorized by these bylaws, to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the Corporation, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.

Section Two. Checks, Drafts, or Orders for Payment. All checks, drafts, or orders for the payment of money, notes, or other evidences in indebtedness issued in the name of the Corporation shall be signed by such Officer or Officers, Agent or Agents of the Corporation and in such manner as shall from time to time be determined by resolution of the Board of Directors. In the absence of such determination by the Board of Directors, such instruments shall be signed by the treasurer or an assistant treasurer and countersigned by the president or a vice-president of the Corporation.

Section Three. Deposits. All funds of the Corporation shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the Corporation in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as the Board of Directors may select.

Section Four. Gifts. The Board of Directors may accept on behalf of the Corporation any contribution, gift, bequest, or devise for the general purposes, or for any special purpose of the Corporation.

Article VIII. Certificates of Membership

Section One. Certificate of Membership. The Board of Directors may provide for the issuance of certificates evidencing membership in the Corporation, which shall be in such form as may be determined by the Board. Such certificates shall be signed by the President or a Vice-president and by the Secretary or an Assistant Secretary. The name and address of each member and the date of issuance of the certificate shall be entered on the records of the corporation. If any certificate shall become lost, mutilated, or destroyed, a new certificate may be issued therefor on such terms and conditions as the Board of Directors may determine.

Section Two Deleted

Article IX. Dues

Section One. Annual Dues. The Board of Directors may determine from time to time the amount of initiation fee, if any, and amount of annual dues payable to the Corporation by Members of each class.

Section Two. Payment of Dues. Annual dues are required for a Member to remain in good standing. The date of collection of the annual dues will be determined by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors has the right to waive the annual dues for all current Members for any year they so determine.

Section Three. Default and Termination of Membership. When any Member of any class shall be in default in the payment of dues for a period of six (6) months from the beginning of the fiscal year or period in which such dues become payable, his Membership may thereupon be terminated by the Board of Directors in the manner provided in Article II of these bylaws.

Article X Miscellaneous

Section One. Books and Records. The Corporation shall keep correct and complete books and records of account and shall also keep minutes of the proceedings of its Members, Board of Directors, and Committees having any of the authority of the Board of Directors, and shall keep at the registered or principal office a record giving the names and addresses of the Members entitled to vote. All books and records of the Corporation may be inspected by any Members, or his Agent or Attorney, for any proper purpose at any reasonable time.

Section Two. Fiscal Year. The fiscal year of the Corporation shall begin on the first day of January and end on the last day of December in each year.

Section Three. Corporate Seal. The Board of Directors shall have the power to have a Corporate seal if they should determine it necessary.

Section Four. Waiver of Notice. Whenever any notice is required to be given under the provisions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act or under the provisions of the articles of incorporation or the bylaws of the Corporation, a waiver thereof in writing signed by the person or persons entitled to such notice, whether before or after the time stated therein, shall be deemed equivalent to the giving of such notice.

Article XI. Amendments

Section One. Power of Members to Amend Bylaws. The bylaws of this Corporation may be amended, repealed, or added to, or new bylaws may be adopted by the vote of a majority of the Members entitled to vote or by the vote of a majority of a quorum at a meeting duly called for the purpose according to the articles or bylaws.

It is therefore resolved on this the 19th day of January, 2007 that the bylaws presented to this meeting become the bylaws of this Corporation effective forthwith.

It is further resolved that the bylaws be authenticated as such by the certificate of the Secretary of this Corporation and placed in its minute book, and that a full and true copy thereof, certified by the Secretary, be kept at the principal office of the Corporation for inspection by Shareholders at all reasonable times during business hours.

/s/ Mike Bleier

Colin Stead

Tom Butz

Sue Wheatly

Amendments seconded and passed on Jan 19, 2007. See minutes of meeting.

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Good day to all Lake Conroe residents and users. The LCA thought it time to provide you with an update on the Aquatic Plant Management status of the Lake.

2007 LAKE CONROE AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT PLAN:

After numerous meetings between Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) and seventeen (17) representatives from residents, businesses and anglers, the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Plant Management Plan has been finalized. The LCA endorses the basic approach of the Plan and its goals. Should you desire to read the Plan, the Plan is being added to our LCA website at “www: lakeconroeassociation.com”.

A key element of this Plan is its approach to deal with not only Hydrilla but also Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth (whereas the prior year’s Plan only dealt with Hydrilla). All of these noxious weeds pose a threat to our Lake.

The two (2) primary elements of the Plan deal with treatment options and timelines for action. For the discussion of specific treatment options, please refer to the Plan and subsequent discussion in this Update. To provide you information on “timelines for action”, please see the following (which includes current timetables as of this morning):

· Monday, March 19…..TPWD initiates its first 2007 survey of infested acres (weather permitting). The survey will take about a week. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added at this time.

· Week of March 19……SJRA initiates herbicide applications for Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth (weather permitting). This herbicide application will be cost-shared 50/50 between SJRA and the LCA.

· May…….TPWD conducts its second survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in June.

· July……TPWD conducts its third survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in August.

· September……TPWD conducts its final 2007 survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in October.

· September, 2007……date at which the Plan commits to have Giant Salvinia reduced to 40 acres or less (with no more than 5 contiguous acres). The latest survey estimated 300 acres of Giant Salvinia (which, under ideal growing conditions, doubles in mass every four days).

· March, 2008……date at which the Plan commits to have Hydrilla reduced to 40 acres or less. The latest survey (Sept, 2006) estimated 1,167 infested acres plus TPWD estimates that 700 acres of previously dry lakebed (in Sept, 2006) are now infested.

TREATMENT OF HYDRILLA:

Hydrilla will be treated using both White Amur and herbicides. While many residents and lake users prefer a treatment program which utilizes “more white amur now and no herbicides”, the Plan does not call for this approach.

White Amur will be added based on future TPWD surveys of infested acres. As you are aware, there is grave concern over the introduction of too many White Amur which may, once all Hydrilla is eaten, eat other native vegetation in the Lake (similar to what happened 25 years ago). TPWD will remain environmentally conservative in this approach to protect the Lake’s native vegetation. Having said this, in order for TPWD and SJRA to achieve the Plan objective of “40 acres or less of Hydrilla infested acres by March, 2008”, one of two things must happen. First, the White Amur already in the Lake would have to be sufficient to reduce Hydrilla (as proven through surveys). Or second, more White Amur will need to be added. SJRA and the LCA will cost-share the purchase of these White Amur on a 50/50 basis.

Herbicides will also be used to combat Hydrilla. Use of a product called “Sonar” may be used in cove-type areas where the product will not dissipate easily into the main body of the Lake (only 100 to 200 of infested Hydrilla acres of the Lake fit this description). This product takes 45 to 60 days of “contact time” to be effective; but when effective, actually kills both Hydrilla and Giant Salvinia by eliminating their ability to conduct photosynthesis.

More common to our Lake, a product called “Aquathol” will be used to “burn back” Hydrilla. This product provides almost-immediate results in removing “topped-out Hydrilla”, but does not kill the plant. This product has been used historically to clear access to the main body of the Lake and around boat docks. “Aquathol” will be used to reduce the total mass of Hydrilla in the Lake so that the White Amur have less Hydrilla to eat and, theoretically, can control Hydrilla faster and more effectively. Again, TPWD and SJRA endorse an approach of White Amur plus herbicides rather than introducing too many White Amur (and the potential effects on native vegetation).

Historically, SJRA has paid for herbicides. While the LCA understands the use of herbicides in treating Hydrilla and their potential value, we continue to evaluate the high cost of herbicides versus the addition of more White Amur. SJRA has requested the LCA to become a 50/50 cost-share partner in the purchase of herbicides, and the LCA has requested that SJRA provide the LCA with a cost estimate based on monies spent on herbicides last year by SJRA and projected for this year. The LCA cannot agree to cost-share on herbicides for the treatment of Hydrilla until it can evaluate these projected costs and make its own decision on whether these are monies well spent on behalf of our LCA members. This information will be available in the next couple of weeks.

IF YOU CATCH A WHITE AMUR, YOU MUST “RELEASE”:

In the event that you inadvertently catch a White Amur, the law states that you must “release” that White Amur immediately. Anyone caught by Game Wardens with White Amur on board their boat is subject to significant fines and penalties. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue and protect the White Amur you have helped to purchase, a Signage Campaign has been initiated to state the law and assist anglers in identifying a White Amur. TPWD will prepare the signage, and such signage will be posted at boat launches and marinas. Costs for this signage will be shared by TPWD, SJRA, the LCA and Texas BASS Federation (largest angling organization in Texas).

TREATMENT OF GIANT SALVINIA:

Giant Salvinia has not received the same attention level on Lake Conroe as has Hydrilla. Most likely, individuals do not focus as much on things that they cannot see (or, at least, see easily). With Hydrilla encroaching on your boat dock or hindering your ability to navigate through and enjoy the Lake, it’s only natural that Hydrilla has received the majority of the public’s and LCA’s attention. The LCA’s objective would be the reduction of Giant Salvinia to less than one acre by the end of the year.

Under ideal growing conditions, Giant Salvinia can DOUBLE in mass EVERY FOUR DAYS. Giant Salvinia was estimated to cover 300 acres in the Fall of 2006. Imagine if you will, a plant (again, under ideal growing conditions) covering 300 acres on April 1 which becomes 600 acres on April 5… which becomes 1,200 acres on April 9…. which becomes 2,400 acres on April 13. In this example, it only took 8 days to produce more infested Giant Salvinia acres than the total infested Hydrilla acres we had last year (1,167 acres in September, 2006). Giant Salvinia is a terrible, invasive, exotic plant which could destroy our Lake much faster than Hydrilla.

Why haven’t all of us been focusing on Giant Salvinia? The answer lies in its location. Giant Salvinia has primarily resided in the northern-most, uninhabited waters of Lake Conroe where waters are extremely shallow. With no inhabitants to be bothered by the plant and almost zero access by boat (or air boat), Giant Salvinia did not appear to present a direct threat to most of us. Further, the plant was “trapped” in its shallow waters with very little room to expand and limited nutrients and sunlight to utilize in its small space. This is not to say that Giant Salvinia hasn’t caused problems for lakefront residents as well, but such problems were limited (unless, of course, “your” lakefront was infested).

Why are we so concerned about Giant Salvinia now? With the heavy rains at the end of 2006 which raised the Lake level by over four (4) feet, Giant Salvinia was “flushed out” of its habitat and into the main body of Lake Conroe (unlike Hydrilla which anchors itself to the Lake floor, Giant Salvinia floats on the Lake surface). Most likely, all of our Lake’s shoreline has become invaded by very small amounts of Giant Salvinia. I know I can find small pieces of Giant Salvinia just about anywhere I go on the Lake. TPWD and SJRA concur with these findings.

With Giant Salvinia spread throughout the Lake now, 2007 could prove disastrous with no physical restrictions on its growth and unlimited nutrients and sunlight available to it across the Lake. The time to act is now!!! Giant Salvinia is not going to go away on its own. We can treat the 300 or so acres immediately, or we can treat multiples of those acres next month. And, of course, we can spend money now or spend multiples of that money next month.

If there is a good thing about Giant Salvinia, it can be killed with herbicide applications. Since it floats on the surface, herbicides can be applied directly on the plant. This differs greatly from Hydrilla in that Hydrilla grows from the bottom and only leaves the “topped out” portion exposed for direct herbicide applications. While many people resist the use of herbicides, the use of herbicides on Giant Salvinia is a necessity (no other solution, such as White Amur for Hydrilla, is known).

Herbicide applications on Giant Salvinia (and Water Hyacinth…..a floating plant like Giant Salvinia and often found living harmoniously with Giant Salvinia) begin next week. The maximum projected cost for this application is $80,000, and the LCA will share the cost on a 50/50 basis with SJRA.

You will soon see and hear Fund Raising efforts by the LCA regarding monies needed for the treatment of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth. It should be noted that the LCA has obtained preliminary endorsement of this Fund Raising campaign from angling organizations such a Texas BASS Federation (anglers have always recognized the devastating effects of Giant Salvinia). Meetings are being held next week with BASS to work out a joint Fund Raising effort where support is requested from residents, businesses AND anglers. These Fund Raising efforts have been endorsed by TPWD and SJRA.

LCA BANK BALANCE AND FUND RAISING EFFORTS:

The LCA currently holds approximately $152,000 from previous Fund Raising efforts. From this balance, $32,000 will be paid next week for the LCA’s 50% portion of the 10,000 White Amur placed in the Lake over the past three (3) weeks. An estimated $40,000 will be paid during the next month for the LCA’s 50% portion of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth herbicide applications. Deducting these two payments, the LCA will have a remaining balance of $80,000. When further additions of White Amur are approved in 2007 and funds are needed for potential Giant Salvinia herbicide applications, the LCA could find itself without the monies needed to return Lake Conroe to its previously enjoyable and safe condition. Therefore, Fund Raising continues to be a priority for the LCA….and you.

Previously unprecedented, the LCA will work with angling organizations to raise awareness and monies. As an LCA member, you should have received our request to write two (2) US Senators and ten (10) US Representatives informing them that funding is needed at a Federal level for Aquatic Plant Management (and “Thank You” very much if you followed through on the letters). The LCA will next work on a similar letter to State Senators and State Representatives to request funding at a State level for Aquatic Plant Management. I will travel to Austin this Wednesday at Senator Nichols request to present Texas’ needs for Aquatic Plant Management funding to approximately 55 State Representatives and to request their support for Senator Nichols’ Bill (which would authorize TPWD monies to be used for Aquatic Plant Management). The LCA participates in the Conroe Chamber of Commerce and tries to inform local businesses why our “weed problem” is their problem too. We speak at POA Meetings, sell tee shirts, present the issue to Montgomery County Commissioners Court and try every avenue to raise money that is presented to us. The US Forest Service, who owns 30% of Lake Conroe’s shoreline, has obtained preliminary approval to provide funding to SJRA for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe. And, of course, we’ll be asking for your support.

Thank you for listening, and I will present another President’s Update next month with new information on our progress and concerns. Until then, enjoy our Lake.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

This Update will cover two (2) significant topics; namely, LCA’s Annual Meeting for its Members held today and yesterday’s Advisory Committee Meeting held to provide input on the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

Our Annual Meeting was held today at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority. General information was provided to the attendees and questions were answered. A financial report was presented which summarized Income and Expense for the LCA for calendar year 2006. LCA Member voting was also completed (in conjunction with proxies submitted by Members through the mail) on the election of the 2007 LCA Board of Directors and proposed LCA By-Law revisions.

A brief summary of the LCA’s 2006 Cash Flow Statement (unaudited at this point) is listed as follows:

CASH, January 1, 2006 $24,989

Add 2006 Income:

Donations 205,634

Tee Shirt Sales and Interest Income 3,466

———

Total Income 209,100 209,100

======

Deduct 2006 Expenses:

White Amur Purchases 72,266

Fund Raising (Printing/Postage) 15,904

Administrative 2,372

———

Total Expenses 90,542 (90,542)

====== ———-

CASH, December 31, 2006 $143,547

======

It should be noted that “Cash” at December 31, 2006 includes monies invested in Money Market Accounts earning interest at 4.7%. We are also pleased to report that our Administrative Expenses of $2,372 represent only 1% of our 2006 Total Income of $209,100 (primarily due to Directors working exclusively on a volunteer basis).

We would very much like to thank our 950+ Members for their generosity in our 2006 Fund Raising Campaign. And, while our $143,547 Cash Balance at December 31, 2006 is substantial, we must point out that the cost of successfully controlling hydrilla, giant salvinia and water hyacinth in 2007 may far outweigh our current funds. Accordingly, LCA Fund Raising diligently continues in 2007 from residents, businesses, and Federal, State and County sources.

With voting tabulated, we are pleased to announce your 2007 LCA Board of Directors as follows: Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead, Bernie Walling, Conrad Weil and Sue Wheatley (13 in all). Further, the LCA proposed changes to the LCA By-Laws were passed. A total of 259 proxies were received from our Members, or approximately 27% of the LCA Membership.

Subsequent to LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board conducted its Meeting to elect its Officers for 2007. Your 2007 LCA Officers are Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING ON 2007 LAKE CONROE AQUATIC VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) (the two “Cooperators” under the Plan) held a Meeting yesterday at the offices of SJRA to discuss the Preliminary 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. Seventeen (17) individuals representing residents, businesses and anglers (collectively referred to as “Stakeholders”) were invited to join TPWD and SJRA in comprising the 2007 Advisory Committee. A “draft” of the 2007 Plan was submitted to the Stakeholders, and comments were solicited. Much feedback was shared amongst the attendees, and this feedback will be utilized by the Cooperators to develop the next Draft of the 2007 Plan. The 2007 Advisory Committee will meet again in approximately three (3) weeks to review all changes made to the Plan, and final comments will be shared prior to the Cooperators issuing the Final 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

To briefly summarize where we stood at the end of 2006, the October, 2006 hydrilla survey conducted by TPWD estimated a total of 1,167 hydrilla infested acres. Grass carp called “White Amur” which have a particular appetite for hydrilla were re-introduced into Lake Conroe during 2006 in three (3) stockings, and an estimated 27,046 White Amur were feeding in Lake Conroe by year’s end. These stockings approximate a rate of twenty-three (23) white amur per infested hydrilla acre.

A particular concern for 2007 has been the status of 2,600 acres of lakebed which was dry during the Summer of 2006. Some portion of these 2,600 acres were infested with hydrilla in 2005, and the likelihood that they become re-infested now that the Lake has risen to its normal level again is high.

This Update will cover two (2) significant topics; namely, LCA’s Annual Meeting for its Members held today and yesterday’s Advisory Committee Meeting held to provide input on the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

 

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

Our Annual Meeting was held today at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority.  General information was provided to the attendees and questions were answered.  A financial report was presented which summarized Income and Expense for the LCA for calendar year 2006.  LCA Member voting was also completed (in conjunction with proxies submitted by Members through the mail) on the election of the 2007 LCA Board of Directors and proposed LCA By-Law revisions.

 

A brief summary of the LCA’s 2006 Cash Flow Statement (unaudited at this point) is listed as follows:

 

CASH,January 1, 2006                                                       $24,989

 

Add 2006 Income:

Donations                                                  205,634

Tee Shirt Sales and Interest Income             3,466

———

Total Income                                     209,100         209,100

======

Deduct 2006 Expenses:

White Amur Purchases                               72,266

Fund Raising (Printing/Postage)                 15,904

Administrative                                              2,372

———

Total Expenses                                    90,542         (90,542)

======        ———-

 

CASH,December 31, 2006                                                $143,547

======

It should be noted that “Cash” atDecember 31, 2006includes monies invested in Money Market Accounts earning interest at 4.7%.  We are also pleased to report that our Administrative Expenses of $2,372 represent only 1% of our 2006 Total Income of $209,100 (primarily due to Directors working exclusively on a volunteer basis).

We would very much like to thank our 950+ Members for their generosity in our 2006 Fund Raising Campaign.  And, while our $143,547 Cash Balance atDecember 31, 2006is substantial, we must point out that the cost of successfully controlling hydrilla, giant salvinia and water hyacinth in 2007 may far outweigh our current funds.  Accordingly, LCA Fund Raising diligently continues in 2007 from residents, businesses, and Federal, State and County sources.

With voting tabulated, we are pleased to announce your 2007 LCA Board of Directors as follows:  Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead, Bernie Walling, Conrad Weil and Sue Wheatley (13 in all).  Further, the LCA proposed changes to the LCA By-Laws were passed.  A total of 259 proxies were received from our Members, or approximately 27% of the LCA Membership.

Subsequent to LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board conducted its Meeting to elect its Officers for 2007.  Your 2007 LCA Officers are Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING ON 2007LAKECONROEAQUATIC VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) (the two “Cooperators” under the Plan) held a Meeting yesterday at the offices of SJRA to discuss the Preliminary 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.  Seventeen (17) individuals representing residents, businesses and anglers (collectively referred to as “Stakeholders”) were invited to join TPWD and SJRA in comprising the 2007 Advisory Committee.  A “draft” of the 2007 Plan was submitted to the Stakeholders, and comments were solicited.  Much feedback was shared amongst the attendees, and this feedback will be utilized by the Cooperators to develop the next Draft of the 2007 Plan.  The 2007 Advisory Committee will meet again in approximately three (3) weeks to review all changes made to the Plan, and final comments will be shared prior to the Cooperators issuing the Final 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

To briefly summarize where we stood at the end of 2006, the October, 2006 hydrilla survey conducted by TPWD estimated a total of 1,167 hydrilla infested acres.  Grass carp called “White Amur” which have a particular appetite for hydrilla were re-introduced intoLakeConroeduring 2006 in three (3) stockings, and an estimated 27,046 White Amur were feeding inLakeConroeby year’s end.  These stockings approximate a rate of twenty-three (23) white amur per infested hydrilla acre.

A particular concern for 2007 has been the status of 2,600 acres of lakebed which was dry during the Summer of 2006.  Some portion of these 2,600 acres were infested with hydrilla in 2005, and the likelihood that they become re-infested now that theLakehas risen to its normal level again is high.

Having provided this brief background, please find my notes on key points discussed in the Advisory Committee Meeting yesterday (in no order of significance):

  1. TPWD conducted a survey in January, 2007 of the previously dry lakebed in an effort to quantify the number of acres infested with hydrilla since theLakerose to its standard level of 201 feet above sea level.  They estimated that 700 acres of this previously dry lakebed has initiated hydrilla re-growth through “tubers” that can survive dry conditions for reportedly up to seven (7) years.
  2. TPWD proposed to permit the addition of 10,000 White Amur in February, 2007 to proactively address these newly infested acres and the ongoing mortality of the 27,046 White Amur introduced in 2006 (White Amur have an estimated mortality of 30% annually).   The LCA applauds this proactive approach by the Cooperators.  The cost of these White Amur will be shared equally by SJRA and the LCA, and TPWD has waived its $2/fish permitting fee for 2007 (and, hopefully, beyond).
  3. TPWD proposes to conduct its next lake-wide aquatic vegetation survey in March, 2007.  Should this survey conclude that hydrilla growth is not being reduced as expected by cool Winter water temperatures and the hydrilla-eating White Amur introduced during 2006, additional White Amur would be permitted and added during April, 2007 (always subject to availability from the hatcheries).
  4. Similar aquatic vegetation surveys would be conducted in May, 2007, July, 2007 and September, 2007.  If deemed necessary by the Cooperators, additional White Amur would be added in the month after each survey.
  5. Should hydrilla growth exceed forecasts based on historic data, TPWD may consider raising the stocking rate of White Amur from 23 fish/acre to a higher number/acre.
  6. As in the 2006 Plan, the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of hydrilla-infested acres to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.  The Cooperators and Stakeholders are all committed to achieving this goal, and are prepared to stock additional White Amur as needed to reach this goal.  To supplement the budget available to SJRA for aquatic plant management, the LCA has committed to raise whatever monies are necessary to achieve the goal of “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.  Once the goal of reducing hydrilla to “40 acres or less” is accomplished, the ongoing plan will be to keep hydrilla permanently below 40 acres.  It should be further noted that “40 acres or less” of hydrilla is intended to remain primarily in the uninhabited, northern portion of the Lake and not in the highly populated used southern portion of theLake.
  7. The Cooperators are considering further herbicide treatments in March or April, 2007 to attack, in particular, the new hydrilla growing in the previously dry lakebed.  Herbicides can be very effective at reducing hydrilla tuber regeneration.  The use of herbicides on hydrilla is often criticized as a “waste of money” since they typically only “burn back” the growth and do not “kill” the hydrilla plant.  Successful hydrilla treatment proposals typically present a dual approach of White Amur coupled with herbicides.  Think of it this way…..if the herbicides can reduce the overall biomass of hydrilla in theLake(even temporarily), then the White Amur have less hydrilla to consume and can reduce the total hydrilla to a more acceptable level more quickly.  Herbicide treatments for hydrilla beyond April, 2007 are also a possibility.
  8.  Regarding the question “Are any of the 27,046 White Amur still alive?”, there is no evidence to the contrary.  White Amur were not seen dying upon introduction into theLake.  There have not been reports of dead, floating White Amur on the surface or shores of ourLake.  The 12 – 14 inch White Amur were large enough at introduction to theLaketo avoid significant predication by large bass or other fish.  The real truth to this question will not be known until detailed surveys are completed in March and May, 2007, and results show the success or failure of the White Amur to reduce our hydrilla infestation.
  9. TPWD estimates that Giant Salvinia covers between 150 – 300 acres of ourLakethrough a diverse spread of small infestations (and an estimated 40 acre infestation in Little Lake Creek).  Giant Salvinia can double in size every 2 -3 days, and is a far more serious problem than hydrilla if not controlled.  The Cooperators plan to continue the treatment of Giant Salvinia through their dual approach of herbicides and biological controls (weevils).  The 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of Giant Salvinia to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.
  10. It was noted in our Meeting that many lake users may not know that White Amur are protected in our State.  In the event that you inadvertently catch a White Amur, you are obligated by law to “catch and release”.  Game Wardens onLakeConroeare aware of this law and actively checking fishing boats for White Amur.  Should you be found guilty of catching (and not releasing immediately) White Amur onLakeConroe, you will be subject to significant fines and other penalties.
  11. Are you seeing significant quantities of hydrilla washing up on your shore?  It’s appearance may look like what many commonly refer to as “sea weed” (long, thin strands….not as bright green as in the Summer….and lacking the leaf quantity as in the Summer).  Chances are that this IS hydrilla which has been damaged during our Winter storms.  Hydrilla has a natural “die back” during the winter and becomes less healthy.  Our rise inLakelevel and fierce storm waves have damaged much hydrilla so far this Winter, and many shorelines are covered with this “mess”.  Most likely, you’re seeing hydrilla stems that have broken loose from underwater hydrilla “mats”, and this debris will rot and disappear eventually.  Some portion of this fragmented hydrilla can “root” later.
  12. The rains have pounded us once again.  As an FYI, the highestLakelevel this week reached a level of 202.86 feet (above sea level).  SJRA is actively letting water out of the dam to reach its mandated level of 201.0 feet.  Today’sLakelevel is 201.97 feet.
  13. The LCA has recommended Public Meetings in 2007 to keep everyone abreast of theLakeinfestation.  We felt that our Public Meeting in 2006 was a necessary tool to keep you informed and give you a forum to voice your concerns.  Dates have not yet been set for these Meetings.

That’s it for now.  We’ll provide additional information as it comes to us.  Thank you for supporting the LCA and taking an active interest in the health of ourLakeConroe.

Mike

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Happy Holidays to our LCA Members.  We’re pleased that Lake Conroe is far more visually appealing and watercraft-usable than we experienced in the Summer.  Due to a number of factors, our Lake is closer to becoming theLakewe have all enjoyed in the past.  And while the battle over invasive weeds is far from over, we seem to be moving in the right direction thanks to your generous contributions to the Lake Conroe Association.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has completed its November/December, 2007 aquatic plant survey and released those results today to the committee with whom they have work closely over the past two years (including San Jacinto River Authority, LCA and angling organizations).  In general, TPWD has seen a reduction of “topped-out” hydrilla but acknowledges that sub-surface hydrilla is still of serious concern for the year ahead.  While committed to reaching its stated goal of “40 acres or less of hydrilla by March, 2008”, TPWD reported the current hydrilla infestation to be 1,942 acres.  This represents an increase of 167 acres from the July/August, 2007 survey which reported 1,775 hydrilla infested acres.  TPWD reported that hydrilla is currently being found out to a depth of 9 feet below the lake’s surface, and that the average height from the lake floor is 2 to 4 feet.  TPWD expressed optimism because it has observed a significant reduction in the density of the hydrilla (or said another way….even though the number of infested acres has increased, the total volume of hydrilla material has decreased).

TPWD reported a significant hydrilla infestation in the northeastern portion of theLakewhich had limited infestation previously.  The two most significant infestations were in areas referred to as Cagle and Stubblefield.  TPWD reiterated that the inhabited, southern portion of theLakeremains its first priority, but that this newest northeastern infestation is of concern and measured 400 to 500 acres.

Given its reported hydrilla infestation of 1,942 acres, TPWD has suggested that 15,775 white amur grass carp be added toLakeConroein January, 2008 to compensate for fish mortality since the August, 2007 stocking.  The calculation of white amur mortality is based on studies which report a 32% annual mortality during the first year after stocking and a 39% mortality each year thereafter.  SJRA and LCA have agreed to 50/50 cost share this stocking as done throughout 2007.  As a “stocking factoid”, it is calculated that 23,300 white amur have died out of the 86,200 stocked since March, 2006.

TPWD intends to perform a new survey in January, 2008 specifically in the three most infested (and populated) areas referred to as Little Lake Creek, Lewis Creek and Caney Creek.  Should the infestation in these areas not decrease in the next month, TPWD stated it intends to then permit additional white amur beyond the 15,775 already permitted and discussed above.

TPWD stated that they still believe they can achieve the stated goal of “40 acres or less of hydrilla by March, 2008” even though they have reported 1,942 acres currently.  TPWD emphasized that the Plan (Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan effective throughMarch 31, 2008) calls for a “measured approach” to the problem – meaning that the objective of hydrilla reduction cannot override the goal of maintaining the native vegetation inLakeConroe.  TPWD expressed that hydrilla reduction AND maintenance of native vegetation are both priorities.  In fact, TPWD intends to enhance native vegetation in 2008 by planting tape grass/water celery in the uninhabited areas of theLake.

Rather than wait for you to ask the question, I’ll pose the question “What does the LCA think about TPWD’s presentation and proposal today?”  We were very disappointed to learn that the number of hydrilla infested acres increased from 1,775 to 1,942 between the July/August, 2007 survey and the November/December, 2007 survey.  We are especially concerned that this increase occurred during a period where 1) we had approximately 63,000 white amur eating hydrilla (the largest quantity since the early ’80’s), 2) enormous sums of money were spent on herbicides and white amur, and 3) this growth occurred during a slower growing period based on cooler water temperatures.  The LCA requested a January, 2008 stocking greater than the 15,775 permitted by TPWD to proactively deal with an infestation that continues to grow, and we do not believe that a more aggressive stocking would negatively affect native vegetation significantly.  TPWD denied our request to increase this stocking and offered the January, 2008 survey as their best alternative.  Since only TPWD and SJRA are “Cooperators” under the Plan, the LCA must accept this proposal and commit to actively review the infestation on a very regular basis (which we WILL do).

The LCA contributed $252,000 to SJRA during 2007 for aquatic plant management.  While fund raising in the Winter months for aquatic plant management proves difficult (in part due to “out of sight, out of mind”), the LCA continues to work behind the scenes on your behalf.  We recently sponsored a booth at the Conroe Chamber of Commerce annual trade show in an effort to meet with local businesses and express our genuine need for their support.  Through phone calling and personal meetings, we have engaged local businesses to join the fight against invasive weeds onLakeConroeand successfully enlisted numerous businesses as LCA Business Members.  To acknowledge the increasing commitment from the local business community, we have listed those businesses making contributions of $250 or more at the end of this Update.  We hope you keep these business partners in mind when making purchases in their area of specialization.  The LCA also maintains ongoing communication with our local representatives inAustinto reinforce our need for their support in securing funding for aquatic plant management in 2008.

The next comprehensive Residential Fund Raising Campaign will not occur until Spring, 2008 but, of course, donations are graciously accepted throughout the year.  Donations to our 501 (c) 3 charitable corporation can be sent to Lake Conroe Association, PO Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998.  Donations should be tax deductible.

For those concerned over AVM (Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy), a disease typically carried by birds and potentially deadly to man, TPWD confirmed that it sampledLake Conroe twice in 2007 for AVM and reported no signs of this disease.  Accordingly, TPWD states that for now there is no concern for Lake Conroe.

It’s time for calendar year LCA Board elections once again.  The Nominating Committee has suggested that 2007 LCA Directors be re-elected for 2008 to provide continuity and allow these volunteers to see the resolution of weed infestations through to the end.   The 2007 LCA Officers have accepted this nomination.  Accordingly, you will shortly receive a ballot through the mail to cast your support for the recommendation of the LCA Nominating Committee or write-in your own candidate(s).  If you are interested in joining the LCA Board in 2008 and desire to have your name considered by the Nominating Committee before the ballot goes to our Members, please contact me as soon as possible.  Anyone interested in this position should be available to attend LCA Board Meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at10AMand intend to become involved in LCA activities/responsibilities.  If the LCA Board is re-elected as is, it should be noted that the LCA Board’s intention is to re-elect the 2007 Officers for the upcoming 2008 term.  The 2007 LCA Officers were Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

Thank you for your time in reviewing this information.  We will continue to endeavor to provide you with timely information whenever new data becomes available.  Until then, we wish you and your family a safe, happy holiday season; and please find below a listing of LCA Business Members and a brief description of their services and products.

Mike Bleier, President

LakeConroeAssociation

 

****LCA BUSINESS MEMBERS****

The Board of Directors of the LCA would like to recognize the following businesses who have given a minimum of a $250 donation in 2007.

The PalmsMarinaonLakeConroe

(formerly The Anchorage Marina)

P. O. Box525

Willis,TX77356

Ben31@lakeconroe.com

www.palmsmarina.com

 (website will be activated this week)

LakeConroe’s newest luxury marina.  Brand new 12×26, 12×28, 12×30, 14×40, 18×50 & 18×60 foot wet slips.  Sewer pump out & 20/30/50 amp service at each of the larger slips

Lakeshore Sports

15225 Walden Road

Montgomery,TX77356

936-448-2628

www.lakeshoresports.com

Sells Cobalt runabouts and Premier pontoon boats to theLakeConroeand furroundingHoustonlakes.  We promote boating as a great family activity and work hard to ensure an enjoyable experience for all our customers.

E-Z Boat Storage & Valet Launch

14811 FM 1097 W

Willis,TX77318

936-856-4151

Ben31@lakeconroe.com

www.e-zboat.com

LakeConroe’s finest valet launch facility.  Located at the Southeast corner of the big bridge andLakeConroe.

Patti Shannon Sells, Inc. Real Estate

12455 Longmire Lakeview

Conroe,TX77304

936-588-4099

Rusty@pattishannonsells.com

www.pattishannonsells.com

LakeConroereal estate

Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors

Gary Richardson & Candace Joyner

14602 FM 1097 W

Willis,TX77318

936-856-5590

Candace@lconroe.com

www.lakeconroeproperties.com

Residentail real estate firm specializing in the selling of Lake Conroe Properties.

Pro Powersports ofConroe

13895 Highway 105 W

Conroe,TX77304

936-588-1970

info@propowersportsofconroe.com

www.propowersportsofconroe.com

Full service powersports retailer, offering new & pre-owned sales, finance, insurance, service, parts & accessories.

Bentwater on the Northshore

100 Bentwater Drive

Montgomery,TX77356

www.bentwater.com

Laura Baird Interiors

4605 Post Oak PlaceDrive,Suite140

Houston,TX77027

www.candbinteriors.com

Bella Vita onLakeConroe

235 I-45 North

Conroe,TX77304

 The Baird Law Firm

4605 Post Oak PlaceDrive,Suite240

Houston,TX77027

David Weekley Homes

1111 N. Post Oak Road

Houston,TX77055

www.davidweekleyhomes.com

Express Personnel Services

Piedmont,OK73078

Inland Discount Marine, Inc.

1 Marina Drive

Montgomery,TX77356

deh@consolidated.net

www.inlandmarina.com

TOPPS ofLakeConroe

P. O. Box1521

Montgomery,TX77356

wstultz@consolidated.net

www.topps-lakeconroe.com

LakeShoreService

P. O. Box1124

Montgomery,TX77356

Cobalt boat repair

936-448-4440

WestlakeStorage

P. O. “Box1154

Montgomery,TX77356

Dry boat storage

Playa Vista onLakeConroe

5606 South Rice

Houston,TX77081

www.playavistaconroe.com

Alfred “Ted” Ruemke Law Office

704 N. Thompson,Suite190

Conroe,TX77301

ruemke@yahoo.com

Firm handling litigation, personal injury & family law.

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Good day to all. To use a common phrase, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?”

HYDRILLA:

The September, 2006 hydrilla survey estimated 1,200 infested acres. With the rains and rise in Lake levels, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) estimated an additional 700 acres of previously dry lakebed would become infested. I, like most of you, had hoped that the combination of winter temperatures causing hydrilla die back plus our 27,000 White Amur eating away would dramatically decrease the amount of hydrilla in Lake Conroe. TPWD completed its March, 2007 hydrilla survey and estimated a total of 1,900 infested acres…..or no reduction in the number of surface acres at all. With this latest information, Lake users should be prepared for another summer of significant hydrilla infestation.

Acknowledging the new growth hydrilla in the previously dry lakebed, TPWD authorized the introduction of 10,000 new White Amur in March, 2007. Upon completing its hydrilla survey in later March and identifying insignificant hydrilla reduction during the past six months, TPWD authorized the release of an additional 23,424 White Amur which will be added in early to mid-May. This will raise the total of White Amur stocked to around 60,000, and place the approximate number of fish/acre at 30 (an increase from 23 fish/acre in October, 2006). We certainly hope they have BIG appetites over this summer!!

The next TPWD hydrilla survey will be in May, 2007, and I’d be prepared for a further increase in the number of infested acres and the reappearance of “topped-out” hydrilla where we saw it last summer. Further White Amur introductions are possible at that time, yet the concern remains over placing too many White Amur into the Lake which may revert to eating native vegetation once (or if) all of the hydrilla is gone.

The use of herbicides to reduce the quantity of hydrilla is once again being reviewed. Herbicides like Aquathol K do not kill hydrilla but rather “burn it back” for a period of two to four weeks. The benefits of the use of Aquathol K would include the immediate removal of “topped out” hydrilla to provide access to and from the shoreline. A second benefit would be that the less hydrilla there is in the Lake, the less hydrilla the White Amur need to eat and, theoretically, the faster the White Amur can get ahead of the hydrilla growth. Certainly, one negative of the use of herbicides would be the cost of those herbicides (and some would argue that the monies would be better spent on more White Amur that will live for five to seven years). The LCA has not funded herbicide applications for hydrilla in 2006 or 2007, but we will face this issue this Summer. No decision has yet been made by the LCA on this funding issue.

Sonar is a herbicide which does kill hydrilla, but its use is restricted to sheltered “cove-type” areas and its effectiveness is reduced or eliminated should heavy winds or rains wash the herbicide into the main body of the Lake. In the event that Sonar is used, a by-product of its use is that it also kills Giant Salvinia…..and Giant Salvinia likes to collect in these same “cove-type” areas. The use of Sonar is being considered in very limited applications.

Under its arrangement with the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the LCA is to cost-share on a 50/50 basis with SJRA on all approved White Amur purchases and herbicide applications for Giant Salvinia.

GIANT SALVINIA:

Giant Salvinia doubles in size every four days under ideal growing conditions. TPWD estimated a total of 221 acres of Giant Salvinia on Lake Conroe in September, 2006. With the heavy rains which raised the Lake level back to 201 feet, Giant Salvinia was “washed out” of the northern, uninhabited, low-lying areas in which it thrives and into the main body of the Lake. Giant Salvinia can now be found most everywhere on our Lake’s shoreline in small quantities.

To combat the potential explosion of Giant Salvinia, herbicide applications which kill the plant were initiated three weeks ago. The estimated cost to cover the infestation in this first application was $80,000, and the LCA and SJRA will share in this cost under our 50/50 cost-share arrangement. It’s probable a second application will be needed in two months.

WHITE AMUR SIGNAGE:

White Amur are protected by law from removal from any Texas lake. Signs are currently being produced and will be posted at all marinas and boat launches to educate and remind anglers of the need to “catch and release” should a White Amur be inadvertently caught. These signs should also assist bow hunters in identifying White Amur before they shoot their arrows. And, finally, Game Wardens will not have to listen to the excuse “I didn’t know that was the law.”

WHITE AMUR STOCKINGS:

No, not socks for White Amur !! When White Amur have been introduced into the Lake (stockings), questions have arisen by some LCA Members whether the fish were healthy, of the proper size and handled properly. Historically, stockings have been coordinated between the supplier, SJRA and TPWD. During the May, 2007 stocking, a paid, trained consultant will observe the stocking and also train all LCA Board Members in what to look for in White Amur stockings. All future White Amur stockings in Lake Conroe will be observed by either the paid consultant or a trained LCA Board Member…..in addition to SJRA and TPWD representatives.

WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

Thanks to the generosity of our LCA Members, the LCA raised $240,000 in the last year for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe. To pay for the 27,000 White Amur introduced into the Lake in 2006, the LCA contributed $90,000 (I’m using big, round numbers for this Update). Our 10,000 White Amur introduced in March, 2007 cost $34,000. The LCA has agreed to pay $40,000 (its 50% share) for the Giant Salvinia herbicide applications in April and May, 2007. And this newest batch of 23,000 White Amur to be introduced in May, 2007 will cost the LCA $76,000. There goes the $240,000. The LCA’s financial records are audited every two years, so please rest assured that each penny is being properly accounted for on your behalf.

FUTURE FUND RAISING:

Based on the above, the LCA’s bank account balance will be less than $2,000 once we receive all of the invoices for payment. What happens when we need more White Amur or herbicide applications?

You guessed it. It’s Fund Raising time again. The LCA has initiated its next Fund Raising effort, and Fund Raising requests will be mailed in May, 2007. A personal contribution of $100 makes an individual a LCA Member for one year. A $250 business contribution makes a business a LCA Member for one year.

We had very limited success in securing funds from local businesses during the past year (and “Thank You” to each business that did contribute). In an effort to acknowledge businesses supporting Lake Conroe and the effort to control its weed infestation, the LCA will implement a couple of new concepts for 2007. All businesses contributing $250 or more will be publicly acknowledged through advertisements placed by the LCA in The Courier. Further, we will create a web page on the LCA website (LakeConroeAssociation.com) which summarizes all business contributors by business category. We hope that you will review the ads and website, and use this information to support the businesses which are also supporting you. Businesses will also be provided a framed certificate which they can display at their business which lets you know they are a financial supporter of Lake Conroe and the LCA.

FUNDS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS:

Senator Nichols presented Senate Bill 825 to the Senate Sub-Committee three weeks ago. Representative Brandon Creighton presented House Bill 825 to the House Sub-Committee (the House version of the Senate bill) two weeks ago. LCA representatives spoke in Austin to both of these Sub-Committees, and we are pleased to say that both Bills were forwarded by the Sub-Committees to their respective Senate and House floors for voting in future months. We very much appreciate the efforts of Senator Nichols and Representative Creighton for their efforts in initiating these Bills, and of a local resident for his efforts at these Sub-Committee hearings. While these Bills do not direct new monies for Aquatic Plant Management (APM) in the State of Texas, they authorize TPWD to utilize certain funds for APM which previously could not be used by TPWD for this purpose. Further, these Bills raise awareness of the need for APM in Austin, and provide a stepping-stone for future funding requests from the State.

FUNDS FROM COUNTY, CITY AND OTHER SOURCES:

The LCA will be hosting a Forum of State, County and City officials in four weeks to discuss the need for funding from sources other than local residents and businesses. This Forum has been favorably accepted by the invitees, and we hope that this event will initiate true dialogue among these various entities on the need for their immediate financial support. Included in the invitee list are Senator Nichols, Representative Creighton, County Judge Sadler, Precinct 1 Commissioner Meador, Precinct 2 Commissioner Doyal, Precinct 3 Commissioner Chance, Precinct 4 Commissioner Rinehart, Conroe Mayor Metcalf, Montgomery Mayor Moore, Willis Mayor Reed, Conroe Chamber of Commerce Director Darsey, US Forest Service representative, TPWD, SJRA, LCA Board Members and Howard Roden from The Courier. This event will not be open to the public as was our August, 2006 Public Meeting, but the LCA and Courier will be reporting on the outcome the following day. We share this information to demonstrate to you that we are “shaking every tree and leaving no stone unturned” in our efforts to secure adequate funding for the today and tomorrow of Lake Conroe; and that we agree that local residents should not be as responsible for the financial maintenance of Lake Conroe as they have been in the past. As Public Entities often cannot produce immediate funds and must obtain approval annually in the budget process, please do not anticipate monies to be received in time to solve our short-term, summer financial needs….and so, the LCA residential and business Fund Raising efforts will move forward and require your full support.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING, AND I WILL REPORT TO YOU SOON WITH NEW INFORMATION.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) completed its May, 2007 Hydrilla Survey for Lake Conroe and reported its results (and proposed actions) today at a meeting between TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) and several local residents and businessmen who round out the team who meet every two months to discuss TPWD surveys. TPWD reported its first decline in Hydrilla on Lake Conroe since 1996, and accounted for this success by the combined program of White Amur grass carp and herbicides over the past year. While the March, 2007 survey reported an estimated 1,870 infested Hydrilla acres, the May, 2007 survey reports an estimated 1,380 infested Hydrilla acres….a reduction of 490 acres, or 26%.

Based on this reported information, TPWD does not recommend the addition of further White Amur at this time. TPWD stated that should their July, 2007 survey indicate an increase in the number of Hydrilla infested acres from the May, 2007 total, they would then recommend an appropriate White Amur stocking to recognize the increase.

TPWD stated that they have applied consistent principles in calculating the number of Hydrilla infested acres throughout each survey, and that they have checked their GPS (Global Positioning System) data carefully to assure the accuracy of the data. They feel very confident in the accuracy of this and previous surveys. They are pleased to have directly observed reduction of specific Hydrilla “mats” by the feeding activity of White Amur, and such observations have been noted by SJRA personnel as well.

In an effort to present comparable data between the March, 2007 and May, 2007 surveys, SJRA did not apply Hydrilla herbicides during this period (which would have driven down the May, 2007 survey and tainted reported results). Any herbicide applications observed during this two (2) month period were being applied to Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth, and were herbicides which did not affect Hydrilla. Subsequent to the completion of the May, 2007 survey, Hydrilla herbicide applications have commenced.

“BUT THE HYDRILLA LOOKS MUCH WORSE NOW THAN IT DID IN MARCH.”

“HAVE YOU DRIVEN OVER THE BRIDGES AT LITTLE LAKE CREEK OR LEWIS CREEK? HOW CAN YOU TELL ME IT’S GETTING BETTER SINCE MARCH?”

“YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T DO YOUR SURVEYS AROUND ANY OF OUR BOAT DOCKS BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN GET OUT OF MY BOAT SLIP, AND I COULD GET MY BOAT OUT IN MARCH.”

I was right there with you in ALL of these comments. I live on Lake Conroe, am very upset about the condition of our Lake. I would have guaranteed you that the survey results would show an increase in the number of Hydrilla infested acres. The LCA was thoroughly prepared to fight for more White Amur when those results were presented.

The explanation provided by TPWD and SJRA in response to “THEN WHY DOES IT STILL LOOK SO BAD?” focuses primarily on the fact that White Amur (and fish in general) prefer the cooler water during our warm months. TPWD and SJRA report that the White Amur are eating the Hydrilla from the deeper water and moving closer to the shoreline as each week passes. I’d have to say that the reasoning makes sense.

“SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO PROVIDE SOME RELIEF FOR ALL OF US ENDURING THE HYDRILLA AT OUR BOAT DOCKS AND IN THE SHALLOWER WATERS OF THE LAKE?”

The treatment proposal presented calls for significant Hydrilla herbicide applications throughout the Summer and Fall….to be applied from the infested shoreline outward. The approach would intend to provide immediate relief and decrease the overall amount of Hydrilla that the White Amur must ultimately consume. As cooler temperatures return to our shallower waters, the White Amur should continue their eating towards our shorelines and reduce the Hydrilla infestation to “40 acres or less by March, 2008” (the Lake Conroe Hydrilla Management Plan and Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan objectives).

Obviously, this entire proposal hinges on the accuracy of the TPWD survey. The LCA has requested that TPWD provide its survey data for March, 2007 and May, 2007 to the LCA for verification, and TPWD has agreed (and, in fact, the first electronic data was received from TPWD this evening….with the balance to come tomorrow). With this data, we intend to identify the significant locations where Hydrilla reduction has been observed by TPWD. SJRA has agreed to provide us with an aerial flyover to review these specific locations and confirm the reduction of Hydrilla. Further, watercraft will be utilized by the LCA to verify similar data and get a view directly from the Lake. The LCA (to the best of its ability) hopes to report that the survey data does indeed support the conclusion that we are experiencing a reduction in Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation….news that would be wonderful to all of us. We hope to provide that opinion to you within one week.

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SELECTED 2007 SURVEY DATA:

Little Lake Creek…..677 acres March, 592 acres May

Lewis Creek…..267 acres March, 274 acres May

Caney Creek…..657 acres March, 372 acres May

Atkins Creek…..101 acres March, 3 acres May

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HYDRILLA HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

Herbicides being used include Aquathol K spray, Aquathol K granular and Sonar, and have been applied for approximately two weeks now. SJRA has two sprayboat crews out currently. Now that the TPWD survey is completed and personnel have been freed up, TPWD has committed one sprayboat crew. An outside contractor with one sprayboat crew has now been hired to assist as well (although they are committed to spraying Lake Conroe’s Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth for the next four weeks….see below), and this contractor MAY become available to be hired by individual homeowners or businesses for herbicide treatment of their specific property at the homeowner’s or business’ cost. You should note that Hydrilla herbicide applications will typically occur on Monday through Wednesday….allowing a couple of days (as recommended by herbicide manufacturers) before high weekend Lake use by swimmers, anglers and watercraft users

The projected cost of Hydrilla herbicide treatment has not been established for 2007, but estimates will place that amount well over $300,000 in our opinion. Projections are being developed. Expenditures for Hydrilla herbicide treatments will be limited, ultimately, by the amount of available funds from SJRA, Montgomery County and LCA donations.

The LCA will not spend all of its resources on herbicides alone. LCA monies will be set aside as a contingency for future White Amur stockings which may be required should Hydrilla infestation once again increase, and which will be required to account for ongoing White Amur mortality.

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GIANT SALVINIA AND WATER HYACINTH HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth often live together in the same areas. Giant Salvinia is being controlled reasonably well, but Water Hyacinth has aggressively returned this year. Overall, a combined 250 acres of the weeds has been estimated.

Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth have been treated earlier in the year by SJRA at the most highly infested locations. For the next four (4) weeks, an independent contractor has been hired by SJRA to exclusively treat all 250 acres of this infestation (thereby allowing the SJRA spray crews to dedicate their efforts on Hydrilla). This four (4) week treatment is estimated to cost $52,000, and the cost will be shared equally by SJRA and the LCA. Further treatments will occur throughout the year as needed.

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WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?

If I were a good Fund Raiser, I would probably open this LCA President’s Update with this section….but I thought the information needed to be presented first. SJRA has and will fund White Amur and herbicides up to its budget for Aquatic Plant Management for Lake Conroe. The LCA successfully requested an increase in funding from Montgomery County from $25,000 previously to $100,000 for the year ending August 31, 2007. Presently, ALL OTHER FUNDING MUST COME FROM THE LCA THROUGH THE GENEROUS DONATIONS OF ITS RESIDENT AND BUSINESS MEMBERS.

THE LCA 2007 FUND RAISING GOAL HAS BEEN SET AT $240,000. Residential Fund Raising Letters have been mailed to over 13,000 homes in the Lake Conroe area during the past four (4) weeks, and we are so appreciative to our Residential Members who have contributed in excess of $60,000 in these first four (4) weeks. A Business Fund Raising Program has been initiated to raise awareness within the Lake Conroe business community outlining the importance of a healthy Lake Conroe to the success of local businesses, and we thank the local businesses who have generously supported us through donations in excess of $20,000 during these past four (4) weeks. WILL YOU BE SENDING YOUR CHECK SOON TO FUND THE $160,000 OR MORE STILL NEEDED BY THE LCA THIS YEAR? WE SURELY NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW!!!

The LCA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and your Residential or Business contribution should be tax deductible (please consult with your financial advisor). Historically, ninety-six percent (96%) of all monies contributed to the LCA are utilized for the purchase of White Amur and herbicides and their related fund raising costs. The LCA is audited every two (2) years.

Contributions can be mailed to Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998. To become a Residential or Business Member of the LCA for 2007, please make your minimum contribution of $100 or $300, respectively. Of course, contributions of any dollar amount will be graciously appreciated.

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GOT ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ?:

You can always reach us through our LCA Website at “lakeconroeassociation.com”.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND WE WILL UPDATE YOU NEXT WEEK WITH OUR REVIEW OF TPWD’S MAY, 2007 HYDRILLA SURVEY RESULTS. UNTIL THEN, ENJOY THE LAKE AND BE SAFE.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association