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.