LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

What a relief!! Our rains have filled Lake Conroe and we can again enjoy the Lake at its best. We thought you’d like an update, so here goes…

LAKE LEVEL:

Lake Conroe was at 196.68 feet (above sea level) on October 12 and rose to its highest point of 201.27 feet on November 10. The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has since released water and we are at a level of 201.0 feet today. SJRA does not plan to allow Lake levels to exceed 201.0 feet (other than during storms) and would release water if further rains raised the level over 201.0 feet.

Factoid: The Lake rose from 196.68 feet to its highest point of 201.27 feet, or an increase of 4.59 feet. Assuming Lake Conroe to have approximately 21,000 surface acres, and assuming 0.25 inches of water over 21,000 acres equals 180 million gallons, then our 4.59 feet increase equaled over 39 billion gallons of water. That’s a lot of rain!!

Factoid: During Summer’s heat, Lake Conroe loses 180 million gallons per day to evaporation (or 0.25 inches per day over its 21,000 surface acres).

Factoid: SJRA is authorized to sell up to 90 million gallons per day. Of this, 30 million is allocated to municipal, industrial (currently to Entergy) and irrigation (various golf courses and home owners) contracts. 60 million gallons per day are set aside for the City of Houston (although they have not drawn water from Lake Conroe under this contract since 1989).

HYDRILLA:

With a net increase of 4.5 feet of water in the Lake, most of the hydrilla is under the surface. Sure looks nicer!! It’s not gone….it’s just hidden. Hydrilla will not grow as rapidly in the cooler months, and we will see less of it until spring. The exact growth rate of the hydrilla and the effectiveness of our White Amur will not be known until then. We can be assured that hydrilla will be back in our Lake in the spring (including the summer’s dry lakebed now covered with water). Until then, we would not expect to see any further additions of White Amur or herbicide treatments for hydrilla.

GIANT SALVINIA AND WATER HYACINTH:

The heavy rains have “flushed out” significant quantities of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth from the northern portions of Lake Conroe. These areas have primarily low water levels and are not typically accessible by SJRA or the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) for herbicide applications. Unlike hydrilla which anchors itself to the lakebed through roots (tubers), Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth typically float. In a heavy rain, they just “float” South towards the dam. The current infestation of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth across our Lake is serious, and serious action is being taken by both SJRA and TPWD. Both have committed financial and personnel resources to actively spray herbicides on these plants (to date in 2006, no money has been contributed by the LCA for herbicide applications). The most effective herbicide for Water Hyacinth is “Diquot”, but it does not work well on Giant Salvinia. Since “Glycophosphate” (with an “AquaKing” surfactant) works on both Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia, it is the herbicide of choice currently. SJRA and TPWD provide notices with recommended precautions in your area if they are spraying herbicides.

“Weevils” have been used on Lake Conroe as a biological supplement (to herbicides) to reduce Giant Salvinia. Due to quantity of Giant Salvinia “flushed out” into our Lake currently, herbicides are being applied to Giant Salvinia (which will also kill the “weevils”). Going forward, SJRA intends to only utilize “weevils” for Giant Salvinia infestations west of Little Lake Creek Bridge (going into Montgomery on FM 1097) and in the northern National Forest (both of which areas are uninhabited). “Weevils” are utilized to determine their effectiveness compared to herbicides (both to reduce our use of herbicides in our Lake and to reduce the high cost of herbicide applications).

WHITE AMUR:

With November 13th’s White Amur release, we should now have an estimated 27,048 White Amur in Lake Conroe (after factoring in mortality of fish during 2006). The maximum number of fish allowable under the 2006 Lake Conroe Hydrilla Management Plan was 30,000. Approximate White Amur release locations and quantities are summarized as follows: 10,000 in Little Lake Creek (Walden boat ramp), 8,000 in Lewis Creek (FM 830 boat ramp), 5,000 in Caney Creek (Scott’s Ridge boat ramp), 2,000 in Atkins Creek (Del Lago boat ramp), 1,500 from Cape Conroe and 500 near the 1097 bridge. The “LakeConroeAssociation.com” website has a more detailed map for your review.

The cost of our 27,048 White Amur was approximately $216,000. Approximate funding was provided as follows: $110,000 LCA, $81,000 SJRA and $25,000 Montgomery County Precinct 1.

TPWD WAIVES $2 FEE:

TPWD charges a $2 per White Amur processing fee throughout Texas. While final authorization has not been signed in Austin yet, TPWD acknowledges that the TPWD Commissioners have approved waiving this $2 fee beginning around January 1, 2007. At $2 per fish, over $54,000 was paid to TPWD in 2006 for Lake Conroe’s introduction of White Amur.

2007 AQUATIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR LAKE CONROE:

The current 2006 Hydrilla Management Plan for Lake Conroe is soon to expire and will be replaced by the 2007 Aquatic Management Plan for Lake Conroe. The 2007 Plan will extend beyond Hydrilla and address the control or eradication of Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth on our Lake. The first draft of the 2007 Plan has been completed by TPWD and submitted to SJRA for review. With SJRA’s comments to be submitted shortly, a second draft will be produced and reviewed by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is encouraged to make comments and recommendations, but the final decision of the contents of the 2007 Plan will fall upon TPWD and SJRA as “Cooperators” of the Plan.

Members of the Advisory Committee (other than TPWD and SJRA) are referred to as “Stakeholders”. The proposed “Stakeholders” will be a diverse group approximating representatives of four (4) resident/POA/HOA’s, four (4) local businesses, four (4) angler associations, one (1) independent consultant, and four (4) local individuals currently active in addressing Lake Conroe’s weed infestation. The LCA will hold one (1) of the “resident/POA/HOA” designations.

FUND RAISING:

Through your generous contributions, the LCA has raised in excess of $200,000 during 2006 (out of its $250,000 goal). These contributions have allowed the LCA to act as the primary funding source for White Amur in 2006 and established sufficient reserves to help fund the LCA’s portion of anticipated White Amur purchases in 2007. Of course, the LCA’s Fund Raising efforts cannot stop here. The LCA is already thinking towards anticipated 2008 White Amur purchases, ongoing White Amur introductions for maintenance levels, reserves for herbicide applications should Giant Salvinia, Water Hyacinth or some new invasive weed get out of control, reserves for surveying and testing, and reserves for the unforeseen incidents that occur on a Lake and always need money to remedy.

If you have not yet contributed to the LCA’s Fund Raising efforts, we would greatly appreciate your donation as each dollar gets us closer to our $250,000 goal. Donations can be mailed to Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998. The LCA is a 501 ( c ) (3) non-profit corporation, and your donation should be deductible for income tax purposes. Approximately ninety-six percent (96%) of all monies donated to the LCA since 2000 have been utilized to purchase White Amur or herbicides (and all related fund raising costs such as printing and postage). The LCA is staffed by volunteers and pays no compensation.

Support from local businesses in the LCA’s Fund Raising Campaign has been disappointing. To better communicate our need to the many local businesses who may consider financially assisting the LCA and our community, the LCA is currently working more closely with the Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce and its members through participation at Chamber meetings, public speaking, trade show booths and whatever other source that allows us to make a “connection” between the LCA and local businesses.

TPWD will be waiving its $2 per White Amur fee. SJRA has agreed to split the cost of White Amur with the LCA, and has significantly increased its Aquatic Plant Management budget. Having met numerous times with Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the LCA is drafting its request for additional 2007 funding from Montgomery County. The LCA’s Fund Raising Committee is utilizing volunteers to search for State and Federal Grants which may be available to assist with Lake Conroe’s 2007 Aquatic Plant Management Program. Efforts across the State are being made to restore a Federal “CORE $” program discontinued in 2004 which, if funded, would again make monies available to TPWD and/or SJRA for our Aquatic Plant Management needs. Texas Black Bass Association is investigating funding sources to deal with the eradication or control of Giant Salvinia on Lake Conroe. The Seven Coves Bass Club (Lake Conroe) has applied for a State Grant to secure funds for lake health and maintenance. It’s beginning to feel like we’re all working together in Lake Conroe to solve this serious problem, and we sincerely thank everyone for their efforts.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

The LCA will hold its Annual Meeting for its Members and Board on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 10AM at the SJRA offices on Highway 105. The agenda will include updates on all Aquatic Plant Management issues, voting on proposed LCA By-Law revisions and electing the LCA Board of Directors for 2007. All LCA Members will be receiving in the mail a written invitation as well as a proxy ballot for the 2007 LCA Board of Directors should the Member be unable to attend the Meeting. The current LCA Board has thirteen (13) Directors. YOUR RETURN OF THE ANNUAL MEETING PROXY IS CRITICAL TO OBTAIN A QUORUM. Without a quorum, elections cannot be held and the meeting will have to be rescheduled followed by another mailing. Please return your Proxy today.

NEVER SHORT !!

These LCA Updates are never short due to the quantity of information and infrequency of distribution. We will endeavor to provide more timely communication to you via our website (“LakeConroeAssociation.com”). We thank you for reading to the end and supporting our collective cause to preserve our wonderful Lake Conroe.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association