I want to take this opportunity to give our members and the Lake Conroe residents an update about activities since our March 31 press release. Several important questions have come up regarding our actions, especially considering that water is now currently being released from Lake Conroe under the Seasonal Lake Lowering Program (SLLP) at the request of the City of Houston (CoH).
Our petition filed on March 31 asked the Montgomery County Court to stop the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) and the CoH’s SLLP. The Court set a hearing for April 19 on our request for a temporary injunction. The petition included a request for an immediate temporary restraining order (TRO) until the hearing. The Court has not yet ruled on the TRO, and our attorneys are now asking the Court for an immediate Order due to the start of the SLLP water releases on April 1.
Based on the current release rate of 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) the lake will be down to 200′ above msl by about April 23. CoH intentionally requested this release rate, and there is no doubt it is intended to get the lake lowered as much as possible by the time of the April 19 hearing. On-line data for the CoH shows that it has been releasing water into the Gulf of Mexico from Lake Houston, obviously to make room for the requested water from Lake Conroe. The water being released from Lake Conroe is clearly not needed by CoH. CoH claims the SLLP is needed to create capacity in Lake Conroe for potential flood mitigation, yet there is no significant rain event in the ten-day forecast. The water – approximately 7 billion gallons by April 23 – is not needed for municipal use nor is there even a remote storm threat.
The actions of the SJRA and CoH in initiating the SLLP while a court action is underway is neither prudent nor defensible given the waste of water. Both SJRA and the CoH are requiring their customers to implement water conservation measures, and it is even mandated by their TCEQ-issued water rights permit. Even more alarming, Montgomery County is now officially designated as a Moderate Drought area, Harris County is Abnormally Dry, and many parts of Texas are experiencing Extreme and Exceptional Drought conditions. Meanwhile, SJRA and CoH are currently discharging, i.e., wasting, over 290,000,000 gallons of water per day under the SLLP. For comparison purposes, this amount of water would supply over half the water needs of CoH every day if it were not being dumped.
All the while, every existing technical study show the SLLP will not result in any material reduction in downstream flooding. These studies can be found on our website along with other supporting data.
LCA will continue to pursue these efforts to stop the SLLP, and I will keep you updated.
Kevin Lacy – LCA President