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 [email protected].
Mike Bleier, President, Lake Conroe Association