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

LCCN petitioning LSGCD’s impending 2016 regulations

Posted: Sunday, May 3, 2015 9:44 pm

The Lake Conroe Communities Network is in the process of garnering signatures for a petition urging the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to suspend impending groundwater regulations that would go into effect in 2016.

The petition claims the regulations will cause a water deficit of 100,000 acre-feet per year by 2035 when factoring in Montgomery County population growth projections. They want the district to take time to study the viability and sustainability of using alternative methods of accessing water, including taking it from Lake Conroe.

The petition also calls upon the district to initiate other water conservation tactics instead of only cutting back on aquifer use. LCCN also wants LSGCD to distinguish the four aquifers under Montgomery County as such and not as one Gulf Coast Aquifer as LCCN claims.

“This is unprecedented as far as we’re concerned, to influence Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District through a petition,” LCCN President Scott Sustman said.

The network held a series of forums in Lake Conroe communities on April 27 and 28 introducing the petition and gaining support and signees.

“The petition deals with the economic viability, practicality and sustainability of alternative water sources,” Sustman said. “That’s actually right in the charter Lone Star Water Conservation District has, and before they constrict water usage from a particular source, they need to make sure that the alternative source is economically viable, ethical and sustainable.

“We feel there’s some question about that when they’re pointing to Lake Conroe potentially as an alternative water source because there’s a finite amount of water in Lake Conroe, and quite frankly, there’s more water in the aquifers than there is in Lake Conroe.”

Kathy Turner Jones, general manager for LSGCD, said the district has no intentions of delaying the implementation of the regulations on Jan. 1, 2016.

Jones said the district is performing studies to determine the impact of the 2016 regulations as well as the additional availability of groundwater.

“The current plan has adequate options for anticipated growth through 2070 and it will be under revision starting next year to incorporate revised population estimates,” Jones said. “Montgomery County will need to be able to draw upon a variety of diversified sources of raw water for future public needs and economic development. If additional groundwater is determined to be available it will be incorporated in the next planning round as a viable future supply.”

Jones also said the study the district is undertaking distinguishes the aquifers as separate strata and not as one “Gulf Coast Aquifer,” as does the Houston Area Groundwater Model.

LSGCD partakes in groundwater conservation education, Jones said, and it has fulfilled its statutorily mandated duties in doing so.

“The district has been active in promoting conservation for all entities within the county,” Jones said. “The district’s offices has (sic) many examples of conservation measures for outdoor water and rainwater harvesting as well as native plant landscaping for water savings. It has also assisted in the establishment of the Gulf Coast/Montgomery County Water Efficiency Network consisting of water professionals from around the region that meet regularly to share industry information and discuss conservation issues.”

The petition currently has over 400 signatures

For more information about the petition, visit www.lakeconroecn.com.

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LCCN to host ‘Save the Lake’ town halls

Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2015 9:39 pm

The Lake Conroe Communities Network is hoping for a good turnout at their “Save the Lake” town halls on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

The informational meetings will be about the LCCN’s argument against increasing Lake Conroe’s contribution to the Montgomery County water supply, as the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District intends to do starting Jan.1.

“LCCN has done a lot of research relative to the things that LSGCD wants to have transpire Jan. 1 regarding reduction of pumpage,” LCCN President Scott Sustman said. “We’re going to present information and analysis by some hydrologists that have not been involved in the process questioning some of Lone Star’s beliefs that the (main Montgomery County) aquifer is in distress.”

Sustman said they aren’t butting heads with the LSGCD, but that more information needs to be gathered before they make any decision regarding Lake Conroe.

“We need to take a little more time, do more research and gathering more facts,” he said. “Lone Star is going that to an extent with a project that’s going on but that won’t be done for a few years.”

The town hall meetings will be one hour including a 40-minute presentation by one of two experts that agree with LCCN’s position in the issue.

Bob Harden is a professional hydrologist and the president of R.W. Harden Associates. He will speak at the April Sound Country Club on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday at Walden Yacht Club.

Michael Thornhill is the president of Thornhill Group, as well as a professional geologist and hydrogeologist. He will speak at the Northshore Church in Bentwater on Tuesday and the Seven Coves Clubhouse on Wednesday.

After the presentation, attendees will also have a chance to sign a petition asking LSGCD to postpone any regulation changes.

Both presentations begin at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. For more information go to www.LakeConroeCN.com/ #Save_The_Lake.

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

SJRA plans study on Catahoula well site

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 10:58 pm

LAKE CONROE – The San Jacinto River Authority will conduct a feasibility study to determine where it will place its Catahoula water well.

While the SJRA has shown interest in positioning the well near Entergy’s Lewis Creek power station, the utility company might connect two to three municipal utility districts in the area, SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said at Thursday’s SJRA board meeting.

The Lake Creek Reservoir is located on Lake Conroe just north of FM 1097.

“We’ll look at the cost of connecting two or three MUDs and see how financially feasible they can be,” Houston said.

Catahoula wells being drilled are classified as providing an alternative water source from the Evangeline and Jasper aquifers for the water suppliers around Southeast Texas.

The study is expected is take six to nine months, Houston said.

Drought contingency plan:

The SJRA has until May 1 to submit its revised Drought Contingency and Water Conservation plans to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The SJRA board approved a four-step contingency plan.

Stage 1: A 5 percent reduction in water use is activated when the lake level drops to 199 feet at sea level.

Stage 2: Also known as moderate drought conditions, it brings a 5 percent reduction in the winter months of October through March. There is at least a 10 percent reduction in the summer when the Lake Conroe level drops below 197 msl.

Stage 3: A 10 percent reduction in winter and 20 percent reduction in summer months. Mean sea level falls below 194 msl.

Stage 4: A reduction of 15 percent in the winter and 30 percent during the summer months are required when water depth falls below 190.

Water conservation includes the plans already in use by the residents around Lake Conroe.

TAG: LSGCD

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!

County outgrowing water supply

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10:33 pm

The population of Montgomery County is growing too fast for the groundwater to sustain it, and human consumption isn’t even the biggest drain on the county’s water resources; it’s lawn irrigation.

In The Woodlands, as much as 80 percent of the township’s water is used on lawns during the summer, according to data from The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency. WJPA restricts residents from watering their lawns more than twice a week. Beginning in June, residents may find an extra surcharge on their water bills if they are caught watering off-schedule.

Jim Stinson, WJPA’s general manager, said these measures along with conservation education programs are essential for responsible usage, but the rates continue to rise.

“Historically, we’ve had plenty of water resources to cover Montgomery County,” said Mark Smith, Groundwater Reduction Plan administrator for the San Jacinto River Authority. “But urbanization puts those resources under pressure.”

The county’s population doubled more than four times from 1960 to 2010, according to Census data; and as the area north of Houston continues to grow, Montgomery County will have to look elsewhere for water.

Smith said Lake Conroe holds the key, at least for now. That’s where SJRA is building two 5 million-gallon tanks and prepping to lay 57 miles of pipeline that will carry water from the lake to homes and businesses in certain areas of the county, including The Woodlands, Oak Ridge North and Conroe.

“Without that, we would have to stop growing for lack of water,” he said.

Montgomery County’s portion of the Chicot, Evangeline and Jasper aquifers can recharge by 64,000 acre feet, or 20.8 billion gallons, a year. But Montgomery County residents used more than 28 billion gallons in 2009. The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District(LSGCD), the county agency that regulates these underground bodies of water, estimates the demand will grow to more than 50 billion gallons by 2040.

The lake can sustainably provide 32.5 billion gallons of water a year. The SJRA may have to dig deeper or buy water from other counties in the future, but eventually demand will likely outpace the supply. Conservation could significantly reduce the demand for water.

“The cheapest alternative supply is to simply use less,” Smith said.

Keep off the grass

Landscaping is a point of pride in The Woodlands. Residents take care to ensure their lawns are vibrant and well-watered. Stinson said Woodlands residents triple the amount of water they use on their lawns in the summer, and about half of that is wasted.

He said grass needs only about an inch of water each week. Too much water can keep grassroots from growing deep enough, causing them to become “addicted” to the excess. He said residents routinely over-water their lawns.

Not even the drought in 2011 slowed them down.

John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist, said Texas’ 2011 drought was the worst of any single year on record.

Most of the state suffered its driest year. Temperatures topped 100 degrees on 52 separate days for most of Montgomery County. Nearly 30,000 trees died in The Woodlands. WJPA issued water restrictions as part of a drought contingency plan, and its residents used 1.8 billion gallons of water more than the previous year.

“Those numbers would have been higher had restrictions not been in place,” Stinson said.

Nielsen-Gammon said conditions won’t be as severe as they were in 2011, but Texas still is experiencing a drought. Higher-than-average temperatures and less-than-average rainfall will worsen the drought statewide.

“Things are probably going to dry faster than they normally do,” he said.

And despite water conservation programs – like Woodlands Irrigation System Evaluation (WISE Guys) implemented in early 2010, which recommends ways homeowners can reduce their water use – Stinson said residents continue “to waste this vital resource.”

A year after initiating the WISE Guys program, WJPA saw a modest decline in the township’s usage – from 67,546 gallons per person in 2009 to 67,092 in 2010. Then the drought hit in the beginning of 2011 and erased those gains in conservation.

At a time when water was most scarce, The Woodlands’ then-95,715 residents used more than 8 billion gallons of water for an average of 83,988 gallons each. In 2012, at 68,236 gallons per person, usage rates fell but were still well above the 2010 low.

And some of the township’s municipal utility districts use more than others.

The most water-frugal MUD is No. 7, which covers parts of Panther Creek and the northernmost section of Cochran’s Crossing, using 42,411 gallons per person in 2012.

By comparison, MUD No. 2, the smallest, covering 762 people in southwestern Grogan’s Mill, used nearly double the township’s average at 128,537 gallons per person in 2012.

“To have an effective conservation program is a process that takes several years,” Stinson said.

In the meantime, the county’s conservation and utility agencies continue to educate the public about watering lawns and to devise creative solutions to meet water needs. For example, The Woodlands’ golf courses water their fairways with wastewater from SJRA’s water plants.

But in the long run, no single solution will be adequate. If the region continues to grow, its citizens will be required to develop more resources and use them responsibly.

Important Zebra Mussel Message for Registered Boaters from TP&WD

Important Message for Registered Boaters

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
This is an important message
for registered Texas boat owners

Dear Boat Owner,

Right now, our lakes and rivers are under attack by Zebra Mussels. In Texas, Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Texoma are already infested — and without your help, they will spread throughout the state.

What are Zebra Mussels?
Don't Be a CarrierZebra 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 .

It’s Illegal to Transport Zebra Mussels
Unfortunately, you may be “in possession” of Zebra Mussels, and not even know it. That is because young Zebra Mussels in their larval stage can survive for days in water left in your boat and are invisible to the naked eye!

We wanted to make sure you are aware that it is ILLEGAL to possess or transport Zebra Mussels – knowingly OR unknowingly in the state of Texas. The law imposes fines of up to $500 for the first incident (a Class C misdemeanor), and steeper fines with possible jail time, for subsequent offenses.

Stop the spread and avoid breaking the law
Boaters can take a few simple precautions to help ensure they are in compliance with the law.

  • CLEAN. Clean off any vegetation, mud or foreign objects on the boat, trailer and gear before you leave the lake
  • DRAIN. The law requires that boaters drain all water from the boat, including the motor, bilge, livewells and bait buckets — before leaving an infested lake.
  • DRY. Dry the boat and trailer for a week or more before entering another water body. If unable to let it dry for at least a week, wash it with a high-pressure washer and hot (at least 140-degree), soapy water.

Watch this video to see how to effectively clean and/or decontaminate your boat.


Visit TexasInvasives.org/ZebraMussels to find more on:
  • How to identify adult Zebra Mussels
  • The damage they cause to boats and how to clean/decontaminate your boat
  • Reporting a Zebra Mussel sighting
  • How to request additional information

Thank you for doing your part to save Texas’ lakes and rivers.

Hello Zebra Mussels. Goodbye Texas Lakes.

Thanks to the following Texas Parks and Wildlife campaign partners: Tarrant Regional Water District, Trinity River Authority, City of Dallas, North Texas Municipal Water District, City of Waco, Sabine River Authority, Brazos River Authority, City of Grapevine, San Jacinto River Authority, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, City of Houston, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, and Canadian River Municipal Water Authority.

Sign up for free email updates and e-newsletters from Texas Parks and Wildlife to stay up to date on the latest fishing, hunting and state park information. You can unsubscribe or change your subscription selections at any time.

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.

TRA, SJRA OK option agreement

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2013 10:48 pm

ARLINGTON – The Trinity River Authority board approved an option agreement with the San Jacinto River Authority Monday for the sale of up to 50,000 acre-fee per year of water from Lake Livingston.

The SJRA board previously approved the same agreement March 28.

The agreement represents a key step toward fully implementing the State Water Plan, establishing up to a 15-year option period for the two river authorities to complete all steps – including necessary approvals for an inter-basin transfer – that will move water from Lake Livingston to Lake Conroe.

“Conducting long-term water supply planning is a responsibility we take very seriously because we know it’s essential to our state’s success,” said TRA board President Harold Barnard. “We have to get water to the people who need it, and that simply can’t be done without strategic partnerships, especially between river basins. What we’ve been able to achieve through our partnership with SJRA is a great example of what Texas’ major water providers can do when they work together.”

The agreement requires the payment of an annual option fee equal to 5 percent of TRA’s approved raw water rate. For 50,000 acre-feet of water at TRA’s current rate, the option fee is approximately $238,000 per year.

At a future date, TRA and SJRA will determine appropriate timing for the delivery of water from Lake Livingston to Lake Conroe.

“This is just the first step in a long process, but it’s an important milestone for Montgomery County,” said SJRA board President Lloyd Tisdale. “Now we can look 50 to 100 years into the future and have confidence that our water supplies can keep up with the extraordinary economic and population growth that we’re experiencing.”

Created by the Texas Legislature in 1937, the San Jacinto River Authority is a government agency whose mission is to develop, conserve and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin. Covering all or part of seven counties, the organization’s jurisdiction includes the entire San Jacinto River watershed, excluding Harris County.

SJRA is one of 10 major river authorities in Texas, and like other river authorities, its primary purpose is to implement long-term, regional projects related to water supply and wastewater treatment. For more information, visit www.sanjacintoriverauthority.com.

The Trinity River Authority of Texas is a conservation and reclamation district providing wastewater and water treatment, along with recreation and reservoir facilities, for municipalities within the nearly 18,000-square-mile Trinity River basin.

Each TRA operating project is an independent financial entity, and TRA receives no tax revenues or appropriations. For more information, visit www.trinityra.org.

TAG: LSGCD

SJRA taps into Trinity

Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2013 10:55 pm

With the approval of a 15-year option agreement, the San Jacinto River Authority has taken the first step to securing an alternate water source for Montgomery County.

The SJRA board voted Thursday to enter into a contract with the Trinity River Authority for the purchase of up to 50,000 acre-feet per year of water from Lake Livingston. The agreement gives the SJRA 15 years to finalize a water supply contract and complete other steps necessary to transfer water from Lake Livingston into Lake Conroe.

The 50,000 acre-feet is half of Lake Conroe’s annual yield of 100,000 acre-feet.

While a number of steps remain, SJRA board President Lloyd Tisdale calls the agreement an “important milestone” for the county.

“This agreement secures additional water for the future of Montgomery County and ensures that our water supplies can keep up with the extraordinary economic and population growth that we’re experiencing,” he stated.

The TRA board is expected to approve the proposed agreement April 24.

For years, local officials have examined various methods to increase Montgomery County’s surface water capacity. Suggestions have included creation of a second reservoir, but tapping into Trinity River Basin has long been an option.

The agreement gives SJRA the first right of refusal for the water, which requires an annual option fee equal to 5 percent of TRA’s approved raw water rate of $95 per acre-feet. That equates to $237,500 per year for the 50,000 acre-feet.

The annual option will be paid by the utilities participating in the SJRA’s Groundwater Reduction Plan (LSGCD).

“We need to understand that this is the first step of a long journey,” Conroe Mayor Webb Melder said.

When the SJRA decides to secure the water rights from TRA, the annual fee increases to approximately $1.5 million. The fee increases to $4.5 million a year once usage begins, SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said.

But that is well into the future.

“We’re staying well ahead of the curve, but we’ve got to be patient,” he said. “We don’t want to start such a project too soon. We’ll need to monitor the population growth over the next decade.”

The SJRA and the TRA will need to coordinate the arrival of Trinity River water into Montgomery County as the existing water rights in Lake Conroe won’t be utilized for several decades. As part of its GRP, the SJRA is constructing a surface water treatment plant on Lake Conroe and installing approximately 50 miles of pipeline to reduce the county’s dependence on groundwater starting Jan. 1, 2016.

A preliminary cost estimate of installing a pipeline that carries water the 30 miles between the two reservoirs is $300 million, Houston said.

Another major step facing the SJRA is obtaining the necessary approvals for an interbasin transfer of water from the Trinity River to Lake Conroe.

The permitting process could take five to 10 years and $500,000 in legal fees, Houston said.

“There are still a lot of decisions to be made,” he said. “But this enables us to look 50 to 100 years into the future and have confidence that we’re maximizing Montgomery County’s water supply options.”

Houston’s Luce Bayou project may save Lake Conroe water supply

Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 9:27 pm

A project that could ease the city of Houston’s future dependence on Lake Conroe surface water is facing at least one environmental challenge.

The Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer is a $297 million project designed to convey water owned by Houston from the Trinity River basin to Lake Houston. Currently that water flows into Trinity Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Galveston has studied the Luce Bayou project for more than a decade. Supported by the city of Houston, the Region H Planning Group and other governmental entities, the Luce Bayou project will serve as Houston’s primary backup water supply.

It’s a role already required of Lake Conroe. Although the San Jacinto River Authority agreed to an 80-year contract with Houston in September 2009 for control over all the water in Lake Conroe, Houston retains access to the reservoir.

Each year prior to 2025, the city can request its annual share of surface water, as it did during the drought of 2011. After 2025, the SJRA gets first crack at Lake Conroe’s water, but the city of Houston still will have access to the remaining supply available for pumping, said Jace Houston, SJRA general manager.

“It (the Luce Bayou project) has been a key part of the city of Houston’s water plans for decades,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is satisfied with the project. The Corps and the Coastal Water Authority held a public hearing Nov. 28 in Dayton to collect comments. Sierra Club representatives attended the hearing and presented USACE engineers with a 90-page document objecting to the project, said Dan Davis, a member of the Lake Conroe Communities Network.

Davis is concerned Sierra Club’s opposition to the plan will pull the plug on the project.

“They (the Sierra Club) have a lot of allies,” he said.

Davis is urging Lake Conroe residents and businesses to email support for the project. December 10 is the deadline for USACE to receive comments.

“This may be the only opportunity for the people in Montgomery County to influence Lake Conroe water levels,” Davis said.

Comments can be emailed to Jayson.m.hudson@usace.army.mil.

“Numbers of letters count in this game,” Davis stated in an email.

TAG: LSGCD

Construction on GRP’s major projects started

Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2012 11:27 pm

LAKE CONROE – With its deadline a little more than three years away, major sections of the Groundwater Reduction Plan project have started.

Those projects include the raw water intake, the surface water treatment plant and two storage tanks, said Mark Smith, GRP administrator for the San Jacinto River Authority.

Meanwhile, the first contracts for installation of the project’s 50 miles of pipeline will be awarded in March, he said.

Construction of the raw water intake is the most noticeable of the work going on along the Lake Conroe dam. Rebar reinforced concrete is being poured some 300 feet out from the dam’s shore for piers designed to support the pump station.

Three pumps will be installed, but there will be room to grow,” Smith said.

The raw water will be pumped out of the dam and into the treatment plant.

“Most of the work there right now is simply site work,” he said.

Once the foundation is completed, work on the treatment plant will include “multiple steps,” such as the pre-treatment and filtration of the water.

Designed to meet a mandated 30 percent reduction in the use of groundwater by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), the GRP project has a completion date of Jan. 1, 2016.

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

Impact of Lake-Level Reductions on Lake Conroe Area – Texas A&M Report

Here is the final report for Texas A&M estimating the impact of the lake level reductions: Lake-Conroe-Final-Report

Bottom Line Summary

  • The GRP scenarios are likely to impact lake-levels significantly. Lake-levels are expected to fall more than four feet below full pool 1.6 times more often in phase one than in prior periods, and increase to 8.5 times more often in phase four.
  • Direct economic impacts are most likely to occur geographically near the lake.
  • Residential properties in lakefront communities enjoy a 15% premium, which declines quickly with geographic distance.
  • Residents in lakefront communities expect a 28% decline in residential property values, in which case losses in real estate values would amount to $1.1 billion in the area.
  • For each foot of lake-level decline beyond the first two feet, retail trade revenue in the City of Montgomery decreases about $414,000 per quarter per foot, or about $1.6 million per year per foot.

LCCN study: County insulated from lake issues

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 11:17 pm

By Howard Roden, Conroe Courier

LAKE CONROE – Montgomery County’s healthy, broad and diversified economy is likely to absorb any impact associated with lake level conditions at Lake Conroe, according to a study conducted by Texas A&M University.

The independent study was commissioned in 2010 by the Lake Conroe Communities Network at a total cost of $142,000 to determine what impact – if any – use of the lake’s surface water will have on the surrounding economy.

Among conclusions in the 60-page study is that the “direct economic impact” of the lake is limited to the city of Montgomery and the retail trade sector around the lake.

A study of the sales tax revenue in that area determined quarterly retail trade revenues reported to the state Comptroller’s Office decline 11.5 percent (or $1.6 million per year) in the city of Montgomery per foot of water in the lake, whenever the lake level falls more than 2 feet below the full pool of 201 feet.

However, that impact around Lake Conroe is not as “detectable” in the larger, more diverse economies of Conroe or Montgomery County, or more isolated economies (the city of Willis), according to the study’s executive summary.

“The more the business relies on the lake traffic for business the greater risk from lake fluctuations that may occur in the future,” the study stated.

Although some of the study’s conclusions came as no surprise, LCCN Director Dan Davis said A&M compiled a “very credible” study.

“The study was consistent with what people told us; not only appropriate but defensible,” he said.

County Judge Alan B. Sadler, SJRA Deputy General Manager Jace Houston, Conroe Mayor Webb Melder and Lake Conroe Association member Mike Bleier were contacted about the study, but all said they had not gone over the study in enough detail to comment.

Among other conclusions in the study included:

Lake levels are expected to fall more than 4 feet below full pool 1.6 times more often in phase one of the San Jacinto River Authority’s Groundwater Reduction Plan than in prior periods, and increase to 8.5 times more often in phase four.

Residents in lakefront communities expected a 28 percent decline in residential property values, in which case losses in real estate values would amount to $1.1 billion in the area.

In the near term, immediate proactive conservation efforts should be encouraged.

Two areas of greatest concern expressed by residents and business owners involve the lack of operational control by the local city and county officials. This may mean finding mechanisms to exert their views into operational matters or negotiating an ownership in the lake, or working toward an identifiable role on the SJRA board.

Clearing Stumps From Lake Conroe

At the end of last year (12/13/11), local Fishing Organizations, The Lake Conroe Association, San Jacinto River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife, US Forestry Service, E-Z Boat Storage and the Palms Marina began working together in an effort to eliminate stump hazards located in the main parts of the lake (not creeks, tributaries, or dry lake beds). The approved area extended from the dam on the south to the southern point of Cape Malibu, being about 3 miles north of the FM 1097 bridge. The Lake Conroe Association, in conjunction with E-Z Boat Storage and Palms Marina began organizing and privately funding the stump removal part of the project at the beginning of the year. A GPS reading of the stump locations were taken in December while the lake was at it lowest level.

By the time the cutting began on 1/16/12, the lake had already risen 9″ to a 193.81 ft pool level. Local teams worked with the cutting contractors to locate and mark stumps for the contractors to cut. One member mentioned several times his worry that even a slight rise in water level might make some of the stumps unfindable. He praised the GPS program for directing the boats right over their targets. Fortunately, the weather held and the job was completed before anymore rains came. Four days later the lake rose to 194.2 ft , a level that would have made this project impossible to complete.

Encouraging for fishermen, about 95% of the cut-offs sank to the bottom in deep water, creating even better horizontal structure for fish habitat. Since these stumps are generally in the river and stream beds that fed the river, locating good fishing spots should prove easier than before.

FACTS ABOUT THIS PROJECT

  • Stumps were cut a minimum of 8 feet below the lake level.
  • Approximately 400 stumps were cleared.

Related Articles:

SJRA Weekly Lake Conroe Report: http://www.slideshare.net/sanjacriver/the-lake-report-012412

Lake Conroe Advisory Meeting: http://www.lakeconroe.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/LC-Advisory-Mtg-12.13.11.pdf

Dock Line Magazine: http://sjra.net/lakeconroe/stump-removal/TPW%20Stump%20removal%20article.pdf

SJRA Report: http://sjra.net/lakeconroe/stump-removal/index.html

Some Marinas and Boat Launch Facilites Getting Ready for Lower Lake Levels on Lake Conroe

Still Putting Boats in the Water

As more and more public and private boat launch locations become unusable, E-Z Boat began deepening its North Ramp by extending it another 4 feet into the lake. Although the channel to the lake has too many high spots for much continued use beyond today’s level (5.5 ft low), the ramp will provide an extremely protected and calm boat launching ramp on the main body of Lake Conroe. The opportunity to go 5 feet down may seem mundane at first, but add the 5 and a half feet the lake is already down and you are 10 feet below lake level.

Dredging and Launch Maintenance

E-Z’s South Ramp got a facelift last month with a new breakwater to block prevailing southerly winds of summer. Always a deep ramp, boats are still being
launched for tenants of the storage facility. In fact, new dredging has begun to add another 3 foot capablity to the channel extending a couple hundred feet plus to reach the lake. With the current rate of water level drop, this may keep the ramp open for a few more weeks.

Conservation method of choice for 19 Lone Star GRPs

Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:00 am

Conservation method of choice for 19 Lone Star GRPs

By Howard Roden Houston Community Newspapers

Of the 19 plans approved by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Tuesday, a dozen groups chose conservation as their primary strategy for attaining the mandated 30 percent reduction in groundwater usage.

While the majority of those Groundwater Reduction Plans were presented either by golf courses or homeowners associations, LSGCD board members were pleased the GRP sponsors embraced any method to reach the district’s Jan. 1, 2016, deadline.

“Our goal at the groundwater district was to see a reduction in the over-pumpage of the aquifers within Montgomery County,” Richard Tramm, LSGCD president, said.

He admitted being “pleasantly surprised” at the number of GRP sponsors relying on conservation.

“It showed a number of permittees were committed to what worked best for them,” Tramm said.

But there were other GRPs and Joint GRPs that followed a different route to acceptance.

Most notably is the San Jacinto River Authority’s Joint GRP that includes 141 large-volume groundwater users. The SJRA’s plan features development of a surface-water treatment plant on Lake Conroe and a pipeline system that will distribute that water to the city of Conroe, The Woodlands and high-growth areas along the Interstate 45 corridor.

A number of water systems in Montgomery County have pursued alternative water services. Municipal Utility Districts 8 and 9 entered into a two-faceted Joint GRP in which their contract allows them to draw surface water from Lake Conroe through a contract with the city of Huntsville.

A bed and banks permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is pending.

The MUDs’ other proposed water source is that from the Catahoula formation. Roy McCoy Jr., president of MUD 8, announced after the LSGCD board meeting that the two Walden MUDs will drill a test well in the Catahoula in the “very near future.”

“We think we will prevail on the bed and banks permit, and we’re going to do both,” he said. “We’re not worried about it. We can prevail on one or the other, but we think we’ll be successful with both.”

McCoy said all wells drilled so far in “our particular area” have contained less than the total dissolved solids required by the state. The temperature of test wells are around 105 degrees.

“Most likely, the temperature will have to be treated in some manner,” he said.

Commenting that the Catahoula aquifer is an “unproven source” of groundwater, SJRA General Manager Reed Eichelberger — an LSGCD board member — questioned whether the conservation district was “comfortable” enough to yield the necessary power to those whose alternative projects do not prevail.

LSGCD attorney Jason Hill said the GRP resolutions approved Tuesday become regulatory documents.

“Certification became the goal,” he told the board.

Eichelberger said the LSGCD viewed the SJRA as the “safe harbor” GRP, and its duty is to accept other entities that struggled.

“We’re willing to do that if they pay the pumpage fees and other financial responsibilities,” he said.

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

SJRA joins the hunt for brackish water

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 11:04 pm

By Howard Roden | 0 comments

The San Jacinto River Authority is joining other water systems around Lake Conroe in the hunt for brackish water.

Days after the municipal utility districts in April Sound and Bentwater received tentative approval for a permit to pump water from the Catahoula Formation, the SJRA announced Thursday it would consider ways to “effectively incorporate brackish groundwater” into its countywide water plan.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has a mandated 30 percent reduction in groundwater consumption by Jan. 1, 2016, for those water users who pump 10 million gallons or more annually.

If successful in the search for a sufficient supply of brackish water, the SJRA could save money for the participants of its Groundwater Reduction Plan and slow the draw of surface water from Lake Conroe, SJRA Deputy General Manager Jace Houston said.

The SJRA’s plan would make brackish groundwater part of a portfolio that could include implementation of wastewater reuse and water conservation, Houston stated in a release.

One advantage is a partnership between SJRA and some of its GRP participants to drill brackish wells. The city of Willis is exploring such an option.

“We’re looking long-term at running a surface water pipe to Willis,” Houston said. “If we can put a well up there instead of a pipe, we can avoid that cost.”

Ken Conatser, representing April Sound’s MUDs 3 and 4, went before LSGCD board members Tuesday seeking approval of a proposed operating permit for an alternative water well not to exceed 350 million gallons annually.

LSGCD engineer Mark Lowry recommended delaying a decision until the board’s April 12 meeting, providing more time to study the data from April Sound and Bentwater (MUD 18). Bentwater MUD officials had sought a brackish water permit not to exceed the 125 million gallons the final half of the year.

“We don’t know whether the amount of water (in the Catahoula) is sustainable. There may not be enough, but that is their problem,” Lowry said. “There is nothing I see that would prevent (LSGCD) from issuing a permit.”

Conatser is confident the Catahoula’s water production will have long-term sustainability for the GRP for April Sound and the city of Montgomery. A well drilled from 2,200 feet to 2,800 feet produced drinkable water at 2,500 gallons per minute.

Most of the wells drilled into the Catahoula south of Texas 105 at deeper depths brought forth hot, salty water, Houston said. Conatser said a test well drilled to 3,200 feet got similar results.

The SJRA plans to conduct its own long-term studies on the Catahoula’s viability.

“We still need a lot more information to determine if this is a viable, long-term supply,” stated Arthur Faiello, director of Public Works for the city of Willis. “Developing a well in partnership with everyone else in the SJRA GRP protects us all from the risks associated with testing this unproven supply.”

Interest grows in a brackish water source deep underground

Municipal utility districts and major water users in Montgomery County concerned about the need to find alternative sources of water are digging deep for a solution — and they think they have found it.

A trio of water suppliers approved by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District are tapping into the Catahoula Formation aquifer as a new resource for providing water to their customers now and in the future. Officials expect that number to grow.

“A study has been commissioned to determine the long-term viability of the Catahoula aquifer,” said Kathy Turner Jones, general manager of the LSGCD. “We want to determine the quantity, quality and suitability of the aquifer as a water resource.”

Turner said wells have been approved for Municipal Utility District 18 in Bentwater and Stanley Lake MUD and UD 3 in April Sound. Panorama Village has been approved for a test well — and Turner said she has heard rumors of interest from other cities and organizations.

Interest in the Catahoula is especially keen because the LSGCD has, for now, determined that water coming out of it will be considered an alternate resource and exempted from a mandate to reduce groundwater usage by 30 percent by Jan. 1, 2016.

To accomplish such a reduction, 85 major water users representing 135 water systems in Montgomery County banded together under a program developed by the San Jacinto River Authority. Jace Houston, deputy general manager of administration for SJRA, said the plan covers 80 percent of the total amount of water used in the county.

Ken Conatser, general manager of UD 3, was critical of the SJRA plan — saying the plan, which requires a commitment through 2045, is outrageously expensive.

“Our projected cost is millions less than it would be if we joined the SJRA program,” he said. “The Catahoula is a cost-efficient alternative.”

Original test wells drilled to 3,200 feet produced poor quality water, but at 2,800 feet — below the Evangeline, Chicot and Jasper aquifers that provide freshwater for Montgomery County — was significantly better.

Conatser said the water is low on dissolved solids and warmer than expected — around 102 degrees — but is quite acceptable. Standard chlorine treatment water from the Catahoula is potable and a viable source for human consumption. And Conatser said water from the aquifer is abundant and plentiful.

Interest in the Catahoula has not gone unnoticed by other utility districts. The SJRA is interested in tapping into the aquifer as an alternative source that would lower its need to rely on surface water — reducing the amount of water it would have to pump out of Lake Conroe beginning in 2016.

Houston said the SJRA is working with the city of Willis on a possible program that would incorporate tapping into the Catahoula aquifer as an alternative resource.

Jones acknowledged LSGCD currently considers the Catahoula exempt from the 30 percent reduction in groundwater reduction required of major users by 2016 but said the agency still maintains supervisory control over the use of this or any water resource in the county.

“The study will go a long way to determining the future use of water from the Catahoula aquifer,” she said. “The district reserves the right to monitor or limit production in the future if it is in the best interest of the public.”

That’s worrisome for Conatser because the members of the LSGCD board are appointed rather than elected. He expressed concern that board members have no consequences for inappropriate actions. Still, he supports the concept of a local agency responsible for local water management.

“I’d rather fight the battles here in Montgomery County than in Austin,” Conatser said.

For more information about the LSGCD, visit www.lonestargcd.org.

Lake Conroe MUDs strike the mother lode on new water

By Howard Roden City editor

In the search for an alternative water supply, the residents of April Sound and Bentwater appear to have struck the mother lode.

Results from two test wells drilled by Municipal Utility Districts 3 and 4 in April Sound show the water found in the Catahoula Formation of the Gulf Coast Aquifer to be “very usable,” and that the quantity available is “far more than anyone expected,” said Ken Conatser, general manager of MUD 3.

Meanwhile, similar results were reported by officials with MUD 18 in Bentwater from its test well.

“We’ve got good quantity and quality,” board member Chris Uzelmeier said.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District board voted Tuesday to allow the water systems to begin construction of their production wells but withheld approval to begin pumping until the LSGCD’s next meeting in March.

Conatser oversees the joint venture intended to provide MUDs 3 and 4 with a source of water other than the San Jacinto River Authority’s Groundwater Reduction Plan. While a majority of the large-volume water systems in Montgomery County have signed on with the river authority’s program, Bentwater and April Sound are among a few Lake Conroe communities looking for a more cost-effective method to achieve a 30-percent reduction in groundwater consumption by 2016.

MUDs 3 and 4 have pursued a search for so-called “brackish” water in the Catahoula, which is located below the three aquifers currently used for the county’s groundwater. But Conatser said tests show the quality of water in the Catahoula — measured by the amount of total dissolved solids — is well within acceptable limits.

“Plus, it’s a whole lot less expensive than what it would cost to join the SJRA plan,” he said.

Scott Weisinger, of Weisinger Water Well and a board member with the LSGCD, was hired by Conatser to drill the 6-inch-diameter test wells. They achieved a flow of 150 gallons per minute.

“It gave us an indication of a good supply,” Weisinger said.

A 20-inch diameter production well has been installed and will pump at speeds of 600 gallons per minute to 2,000 gpm.

The test wells also revealed that the static water level of the Catahoula is three to five times higher than that of the Jasper, Chico and Evangeline aquifers, the primary sources of water in Montgomery County, Weisinger said.

Static water level is the level of groundwater when a pump is not operating.

While the static level ranges from 300 to 500 feet below the ground in the traditional aquifers, Weisinger said water from the Catahoula test well was only 100 feet from the surface.

“It’s almost artesian,” he said.

MUDs 3 and 4 have an agreement with the city of Montgomery in which they will over-convert their water production so Montgomery can attain its 30 percent reduction.

Although MUD 18 was the first water system to drill for an alternative supply, it is not likely to begin pumping until this fall or later, Uzelmeier said.

“We still have to issue bonds to finance the project,” he said. “We took the risk and it paid off.”

Howard Roden can be reached at hroden@hcnonline.com

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