LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of June 17, 2018

We just received letters from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Copies of the letters will be posted to our LCA website. Key statements follow:

“As TCEQ understands, SJRA, in coordination with The City of Houston, have developed an emergency driven seasonal strategy for managing the water reservoirs during periods of heavy rainfall. TCEQ further understands that these measures would be utilized only on a temporary basis to mitigate flooding while dredging activities are completed. Those measures include releases under certain conditions from Lake Conroe or Lake Houston as determined necessary to mitigate impacts from future flood events. Additionally, according to SJRA, the lake lowering strategy would be reviewed and evaluated annually in February and must be agreed on by the SJRA Board and The City of Houston to continue.”

“As we move into the 2018 Hurricane Season, in which we have already seen one named storm, the Agency recognizes the need to protect public health and safety by addressing and mitigating potential flooding. Accordingly, if flood mitigation releases made under these conditions result in an exceedance of the annual permitted amounts authorized for diversion or release by SJRA or The City of Houston, the TCEQ Executive Director will exercise enforcement discretion with respect to such exceedance.”

In other words, SJRA WILL BE LOWERING LAKE LEVELS ON LAKE CONROE.

Further, WATER RELEASED FOR FLOOD CONTROL WILL NOT COUNT AGAINST THE APPROXIMATE 5’ OF WATER AUTHORIZED PER YEAR FOR WATER SALES AND/OR CONSUMPTION.

I release this information prior to newspaper publication or discussion amongst the LCA Board in an effort to get this information to you immediately. As the LCA Board has not yet discussed this new information, I have no report on any next action by the LCA.

For all of us on Lake Conroe, this is not good news. As written to me by State Representative Metcalf, “This is obviously not the news we were hoping to hear. Senator Nichols and I will continue to work with our colleagues and others in Austin and Montgomery County to ensure the most protection possible for Lake Conroe.”

From some of you, we expect to hear an outcry for litigation. I am not a lawyer, but I’m guessing it’s an uphill (and extremely expensive) battle to fight decisions made by TCEQ, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management…..and endorsed by Governor Abbott. For the lawyers in and around Lake Conroe, I’m certainly open to your feedback. The LCA does have lawyers who have offered assistance in this matter, and we will contact them for feedback as well.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

Lake Conroe Association President’s Update June 4, 2018

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

as of June 4, 2018

 

This Update provides information regarding SJRA-requested lake level reductions on Lake Conroe.

MAY 10, 2018 LCA SPECIAL MEETING:

The LCA hosted a Special Meeting of Lake Conroe POA’s (Property Owner Association) to gather opinions and information from stakeholders related to proposed lake level reductions. 30 POA’s representing 14,748 homes on Lake Conroe attended the meeting. Responses to a questionnaire provided at this meeting (and supplemented with 6 POA’s via phone) is summarized as follows:

·        Average water depth at bulkhead when lake is at 201’ elevation…….35” (Details were 3 less than 1’, 8 between 1-2 feet, 16 between 2-3 feet, 8 between 3-4 feet, 1 greater than 5 feet)

·        What lake level reductions would you accept between April 1 and May 31 for a period of not greater than 2 years?……18 said “None”, 13 said 6”, 5 said 12”, no one said greater than 12”

·        What lake level reductions would you accept between August 1 and September 30 for a period of not greater than 2 years?……15 said “None”, 12 said 6”, 8 said 12”, and 1 said 24”

·        Would you consider a “temporary” lake level reduction extending past 2 years?…..4 said “Yes”, 32 said “No”

·        Do you believe SJRA should fund its new Flood Management Division by increasing the rate it charges for raw water to its raw water customers?…..6 said “Yes”, 30 said “No”

In summary, all 36 POA’s in attendance (or by phone) did not support the SJRA Board vote to reduce lake levels on Lake Conroe by 12” between April 1 and May 31 and by 24” between August 1 and September 30.

 

MAY 24, 2018 SJRA BOARD MEETING:

The LCA presented at this meeting for 25 minutes and provided the SJRA Board and its officers a 42 page packet which outlined information obtained by the LCA and showed that the lake area public consensus did not support SJRA’s decision.  The SJRA Board was asked to reconsider its position and recast a vote on lake level reductions, but SJRA declined to modify its position or recast a vote.

The LCA also requested that SJRA better clarify its use of the term “temporary” as applied in its term “temporary seasonal lake level reductions” and define special circumstances that could lead to lake level reductions going beyond 2 years. No clear clarification was provided by SJRA.

SJRA emphasized that no decision on lake level reductions had been finalized since conclusions had not been received from The City of Houston or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

 

LCA ACTIONS SINCE THE MAY 24, 2018 SJRA BOARD MEETING:

The LCA has:

·        Shared written communications and held numerous conversations with State Senator Robert Nichols, State Representative Will Metcalf, and State Senator Brandon Creighton (and their respective staffs). They have been in communication with SJRA, The City of Houston, and TCEQ, and have expressed opinions to SJRA’s proposed lake level reduction program. Further, they have asked their staff to remain in communication with TCEQ in the event SJRA or The City of Houston request a water yield permit modification from TCEQ; and have assured the LCA that we will be notified should such a permit modification be submitted to TCEQ.

·        Submitted the LCA 42-page packet of information (same as presented to SJRA and listed above) to The City of Houston Public Works Department Director, the TCEQ Deputy Director Office of Water, and the TCEQ Interim Executive Director. The packets were accompanied by a cover letter stating the LCA’s opposition to SJRA’s proposed lake level reductions on behalf of the Lake Conroe community.

LCA’s CLOSING COMMENTS:

It should be noted that SJRA did not release any water between April 1 and May 31, 2018 under its proposed lake level reduction program. Among the rationale provided, SJRA did not obtain permission to do so from its 2/3 partner (The City of Houston) nor has it been granted a water yield permit modification from TCEQ.

Based on information provided to us, TCEQ has not received a written request from either SJRA or The City of Houston for the modification of their water yield permit.

Some in our lake community believe litigation should be initiated against SJRA, The City of Houston, and/or TCEQ regarding this proposed lake level reduction. The LCA does not currently share this opinion based on: 1) no lake level reduction program has been approved by The City of Houston, 2) no application has been submitted to TCEQ to modify their water yield permit application, 3) no water has been released related to this program, 4) our local elected officials are working with us on this issue, and 5) initiating litigation immediately closes down communication between parties who may have attempted to clarify or modify the current proposal. Too many in today’s world throw around the words “litigation” and “class action lawsuit” as if it’s just the way the world works today. We concur that investigating our legal rights through an attorney is a prudent action, but we feel initiating litigation is premature at this time. We believe there remains much work to be done before resorting to litigation; but, in the event lake levels on Lake Conroe DO plan to be reduced by more than 12” after all reasonable efforts are exhausted, then litigation may become a course of action.

The LCA still believes that providing a “temporary” lake level reduction on Lake Conroe of not greater than 12” is a reasonable accommodation to our downstream neighbors. More than half of those attending our May 10 LCA Special Meeting agreed. We will keep you posted on any significant developments. Should you have questions or comments, please e-mail us at lca@lakeconroe.com.

 

Mike Bleier, President, Lake Conroe Association

The LCA Will Lead the Fight Against Lower Lake Levels

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

Proposal to lower Lake Conroe water levels

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MIKE BLEIER President of Lake Conroe Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of April 26, 2018

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

as of April 26, 2018

We just completed attending the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board Meeting where topics included SJRA’s new Flood Management Division and lowering Lake Conroe’s lake level to assist in downstream flooding. We wanted to get this information to you as quickly as possible and solicit your feedback. We have requested to be placed on SJRA’s Board Meeting Agenda for their May, 2018 Meeting so as to be able to ask questions and present opinions.

With today’s feedback from SJRA’s Board, Jace Houston (SJRA General Manager) will be working with The City of Houston (who owns 2/3 of the water rights on Lake Conroe) to agree upon using lake levels on Lake Conroe and Lake Houston for flood control. Today’s proposal looks as follows:

LAKE CONROE:

· Start releasing ½” to 1” per day effective April 1 to reach a lake level of 200’ (1 foot down from “normal pool”) by April 15

· Maintain Lake Conroe at that 200’ level through May 31

· Resume collecting water in Lake Conroe as of June 1

· Start releasing ½” to 1” per day effective August 1 to reach a lake level of 200’ by August 15 and a lake level of 199’ (2 feet down from “normal pool”) by August 31

· Maintain Lake Conroe at that 199’ level through September 30

· Resume collecting water in Lake Conroe as of October 1

· During any period where SJRA is releasing water and rain enters the forecast, stop the release and allow the West Fork of the San Jacinto River to drain down in preparation of accepting rainfall runoff within the basin (watershed). Once rain leaves the forecast, resume releases.

· No “pre-releases” of water into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River before a storm

LAKE HOUSTON:

· No “seasonal lowering” of lake level

· When weather forecast predicts an average of greater than 3” of rain in the basin, start releasing water 24 hours prior to the rainfall event. Lower lake level by 1 foot to an elevation of 41.5’

Any proposed program would be “Reviewed” annually and “Renewable” annually in February of each year. These plans would be temporary in nature (starting out with a goal of 2 years) as flood control studies are completed and the results of remediation/dredging of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River are evaluated.

Regarding the proposed remediation/dredging of the lower West Fork of the San Jacinto River, the Corps of Engineers is spearheading this effort. A goal of removing 3 million cubic yards of sand could be achieved in 6 months minimum and could take up to 18 months. Work could proceed as soon as June 8, 2018.

An unresolved issue at this time relates to the “permitted yield” of Lake Conroe. Currently, the maximum yield (withdrawal) is 100,000 acre feet per year. SJRA owns 1/3 of that “yield” while The City of Houston owns 2/3. Will any releases of water for flood control be counted against the maximum annual amount of water allowed to be withdrawn? Under current interpretation, TCEQ would state it DOES count against “yield”. It is expected that SJRA and The City of Houston will attempt to modify their “permit” with TCEQ to remove such a stipulation so that water released for flood control does not count against the 100,000 acre feet annual “yield”.

Regarding SJRA’s new Flood Management Division, funding of this new division requested by Governor Abbott is unresolved at this time. SJRA hopes to be funded by the State. Initially, funding will be achieved by adding 1 ½ cents to the raw water rate SJRA charges its customers.

WE’RE WRITING TO REQUEST YOUR FEEDBACK. Help us represent what you think provides the best solution to this flood control issue and, specifically, the use of reducing lake levels as proposed above. Please e-mail us at lca@lakeconroe.com with your thoughts. Thank you for your attention.

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE as of April 13, 2018

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

as of April 13, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mike Bleier, President

Lake Conroe Association