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.

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