LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE
as of December 22, 2015
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our Lake Conroe Association (LCA) Members and friends. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy a healthy Lake Conroe in 2015 that has seen above-average lake levels throughout the majority of the year. We can only hope for more of the same in 2016! Let me share a few updates with you.
LCA ANNUAL MEETING AND ELECTION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Our Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 10AM at the Administrative Offices of the San Jacinto River Authority (at the dam site off State Highway 105). We’ll meet in the 3rd Floor Conference Room. In this meeting, we tally the ballot/proxy votes for our Board of Directors for 2016, provide brief updates similar to what’s being discussed in this LCA President’s Update, and respond to questions from attendees. All are welcome.
The ballot/proxy for the election of the 2016 LCA Board of Directors is being mailed to our Members concurrently with this electronic LCA President’s Update. “Members” are defined as any individual contributing $100 or more (or any business contributing $250 or more) to the LCA since 2006 (the date of our last big fund raiser to combat the Hydrilla infestation in Lake Conroe). We are not actively soliciting contributions at this time as we have adequate cash reserves to meet projected expenditures for 2016. The 2016 Board nominated by the LCA consists of Gene Barrington, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, and myself. Members can nominate any/all from this list or write-in the candidate of their choice.
STATUS OF VEGETATION IN LAKE CONROE: In a Stakeholder Meeting with Texas Parks & Wildlife on October 28, 2015, a summary of aquatic vegetation on/in Lake Conroe was presented. In the world of “invasive” aquatic vegetation, the efforts of Texas Parks & Wildlife, the San Jacinto River Authority and nature itself have helped maintain a very clean and healthy Lake Conroe. Reported vegetation numbers were as follows: Giant Salvinia…..349 acres, Water Hyacinth……314 acres, Alligator Weed……196 acres, and Hydrilla…….0.01 acres. While 0.01 acres of Hydrilla would appear to make Hydrilla “all but eradicated”, those nasty Hydrilla tubers are still resting in Lake Conroe’s floor. It is presumed that as Hydrilla tubers start to sprout in today’s lake bed, the 5,155 White Amur Grass Carp that are estimated to still be alive are eating any new Hydrilla before it can spread. All of the Stakeholders pay close attention to Hydrilla quantities in Lake Conroe and regularly discuss if, and when, additional grass carp may be added to Lake Conroe. At this date, there are no planned purchases of additional grass carp. As to floating invasive vegetation such as Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth, the San Jacinto River Authority continues an aggressive spraying program to keep any further growth in check.
As to “native” aquatic Vegetation, you may recall that the White Amur Grass Carp introduced into Lake Conroe in 2005/2007 to control Hydrilla elected to move on to eat our “native” vegetation once they couldn’t find any more Hydrilla. Through the dedicated efforts of many “Stakeholder” organizations, an active planting program was implemented to re-establish valuable “native” vegetation. Prior to 2005, Lake Conroe had an estimated 2,000 acres of “native” vegetation. By 2010, “native” vegetation had been reduced below 200 acres. We are pleased to report that Texas Parks & Wildlife estimates a total of 1,215 acres of “native” vegetation today. The primary plants comprising “native” vegetation in Lake Conroe today include Black Willow, Sesbania, Panicum, and Water Willow.
SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY’S WATER TREATMENT FACILITY: The $500 million Water Treatment Facility and Pipeline Distribution System is complete. During July and August, the collective “system” was tested, flushed and disinfected….resulting in the use of less than one inch of Lake Conroe water. The first treated water from Lake Conroe was delivered in September, 2015. It is estimated that during the years 2016 – 2026, one inch of water will be removed from Lake Conroe per month (or a total of 12 inches per year) for use at the plant. Currently, all future users of treated Lake Conroe water have not completed their “receiving“ infrastructure and, therefore, may not be utilizing Lake Conroe water at this time. During October, 2015, less than 6/10 of one inch of Lake Conroe water was delivered through the system.
LAKE CONROE ELEVATION, RAINFALL & EVAPORATION DATA: I thought it informative to share with you some statistics related to lake levels on Lake Conroe during the twelve (12) months ended September 30, 2015.
As you might imagine, “evaporation” fluctuates year to year based on not only temperature but also variations between drought and wet years. From 1973 (completion of Lake Conroe construction) to 2014, evaporation for Lake Conroe has averaged 53.22 inches. For that period, the highest evaporation was 81.31 inches in 2011 and the lowest was 42.07 inches in 1973.
For a glimpse at our rainy Fall season and the continued “full pool” we have enjoyed on Lake Conroe, rainfall totals were 7.38 inches for October, 4.44 inches for November, and 4.01 inches for the first 22 days of December, 2015.
The “table” above totals water released from the Lake Conroe dam equivalent to 228.37 inches during the 12 month period ended September 30, 2015…..or approximately 19 feet of water across Lake Conroe’s surface. I point this out to illustrate the limited effect of removing an estimated 1 foot of water per year between 2016 and 2026 for use at SJRA’s Water Treatment Facility. Of course, we will not always have years like this and, undoubtedly, we will endure drought again. And as we move forward in years, it is anticipated that 4 feet of water per year will be used by the Plant during years 2036 and beyond. Continuing to explore ALL options for alternative water sources and maximizing conservation will be extremely important for our future. Having said that, let’s also not panic about the effects of removing 1 foot of water per year over our next 10 years.
SJRA WATER PRODUCTION IN SEPTEMBER, 2015: The San Jacinto River Authority provides water to entities contracting with SJRA to do so. Some entities such as sub-divisions like Bentwater, Walden and April Sound (to name a few) produce their own water via independently owned water wells and do not purchase water from SJRA. The following data ONLY represents the water produced by SJRA. While the following data does not report totals for all water production in Montgomery County (only water produced by SJRA), I still found the data to be of interest. This data reports on the month of September, 2015:
Groundwater (water well) Produced……….1,942,361,242 gallons
Surface Water (Lake Conroe) Produced……….94,555,000 gallons
Alternative Water Produced:
· Catahoula Aquifer………………….……10,064,419 gallons
· Reuse (septic reuse)………..……….…..19,730,000 gallons
LAKE CONROE WATERSHED PROTECTION PLAN: SJRA commissioned a Stakeholder Group of users across the San Jacinto Watershed (444 square miles) to review “best practices” related to keeping the water in Lake Conroe as clean as possible. While many valuable practices evolved from these meetings, I find one to be of great interest. Are you aware that over 1,400 residences within 2,075 feet of Lake Conroe operate their own septic system? 2,075 feet is very close to the lake. Are you aware that after the first two years of operation, the homeowner does not have to maintain or report on their privately-owned septic system? Poorly maintained septic systems this close to our shoreline provide the potential for serious lake pollution problems. As a result of this newly-implemented Lake Conroe Water Protection Plan (which has been approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), all owners of Aerobic Treatment Units within 2,075 feet of Lake Conroe must submit maintenance reports every 4 months to SJRA. The maintenance report must be completed by an authorized maintenance provider licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This practice is well do and will help maintain a healthy Lake Conroe for all of us. Specific details of this program may be obtained by contacting SJRA. Please note if you live in a sub-division providing septic services on your behalf, these homeowner rules do not apply to you and your sub-division already reports to the TCEQ.
THANK YOU for reading our LCA President’s Update. We hope you find something of interest. The Lake Conroe Association is a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization operating for the benefit of local residents and businesses around Lake Conroe. We have been in continuous operation since 1973. All work for the LCA is performed by volunteers. While we are not undertaking a fund raising campaign again this year, donations are always accepted at Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378. For more information regarding the LCA, to review previous LCA President’s Updates, or to contact us with your questions, please see us at www.lakeconroeassociation.com. Should you wish to contact me directly, you may e-mail me at [email protected]. Again, thanks for your support and have a safe and happy holiday.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association