FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Conroe, Texas—Today the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) filed an Original Petition in Montgomery County District Court seeking a judgment from the Court that the seasonal lake lowering program (SLLP) adopted by the City of Houston (CoH) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) violates state law and their water rights permit. LCA is also seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to immediately stop CoH’s and SJRA’s draining of Lake Conroe scheduled to begin as early as April 1. An individual resident impacted by the low lake levels and the owner of a business that was forced to close due to the impacts of the SLLP joined the LCA in filing the Petition.
LCA has been forced to take legal action because all previous attempts to get a fair hearing of the facts involving independent technical studies, which conclude that seasonal lowering is materially ineffective for flood mitigation, have been met with resistance by SJRA, CoH, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). A complaint filed by LCA with the TCEQ in June 2020 resulted in no action by the TCEQ to prevent the ongoing waste of state water from Lake Conroe. A subsequent LCA complaint filed with the TCEQ on December 28, 2020, provided detailed evidence of significant water wastage and erroneous reporting of water use by CoH. As of the time of this press release, LCA was still awaiting a full reply from the TCEQ that addresses all of the issues raised in the December complaint, but after three months, TCEQ has still not taken steps to protect and conserve state water in Lake Conroe.
LCA understands and is sensitive to the downstream damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. However, multiple post-Harvey studies have shown that flooding was caused by a variety of natural and man-made factors, and Lake Conroe was not one of those factors. Further, two engineering studies have shown the SLLP will have no material impact on flooding and could even increase flooding in severe events like Harvey.
By contrast, lowering Lake Conroe threatens one of the primary drinking water sources of Montgomery County, threatens the backup water supply for CoH, and violates the TCEQ permit, state law, and water conservation efforts. Further, the potential adverse impacts of lowering the lake have not been evaluated, including, e.g., the environmental impacts on heron, eagles, fish species, and the habitat of other birds and wildlife that depend on Lake Conroe. Prior to the needed rainfall in late December, Lake Conroe had been below normal pool level for more than 600 days. The lake is currently at full pool, and if the SLLP is allowed to start on April 1, a minimum of another 7 billion gallons of water will be drained from the lake, enough water to supply over 200,000 households for a year. Montgomery County and the entire State of Texas is facing abnormally dry and drought conditions. It would be imprudent and a massive waste of water resources to allow the discharge of 7 billion gallons of water for no technically proven benefit.
LCA is a non-profit organization made up of area residents and businesses that are concerned with issues affecting the use and development of Lake Conroe, a water supply reservoir located on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River. Originally formed in 1977 to control and eliminate a Hydrilla infestation in Lake Conroe, LCA’s goals are safe water levels, water conservation, resolving invasive species problems, and opposing any activity that threatens the lake’s primary purpose.
LCA has therefore filed its Original Petition seeking a judgement that the SLLP violates state law and the water rights permit and is requesting a TRO to immediately halt the SLLP prior to April 1. A copy of the Original Petition may be viewed on LCA’s website at: lcatx.com. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to: [email protected].