Since shortly after the February 20th SJRA Board decision to accept the City of Houston’s (CoH) request to continue the seasonal lake lowering program (SLLP) the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) Board and many
volunteers have worked tirelessly to prepare a legal challenge to the SLLP. The SLLP was originally promised and approved as a 2-3-year temporary program in 2018.
It has been over 600 days since Lake Conroe was at a normal conservation pool level. 2020 will be the first year since the dam began operations in 1974, other than drought years of 2011-13, that normal lake levels will not have been reached for even a single day in the entire year.
The SLLP does not, as was simply presented by some of the SJRA Board members, reduce the lake water levels on average only a” few inches” for a “few months”. The lake has not been at normal pool for over 20 months and the average water level has been routinely 6-18 inches below a typical year during 2019 / 2020. The dumping of 3-6 inches of water multiple times in the Spring and Fall causes a significant reduction in daily lake levels. See the lcatx.com website.
Since inception the SLLP has wasted over 3.7 billion gallons of surface water that has been released from Lake Conroe to Lake Houston. Subsequently every single gallon from Lake Conroe has been released from Lake Houston to the Gulf of Mexico for no beneficial purpose.
Based upon two independent technical studies seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe is not materially effective in reducing downstream flooding. Therefore, seasonal lowering is both ineffective and
wasteful. Water released for this purpose from a water supply reservoir is unprecedented and violates state mandated water conservation guidelines and regulations.
The CoH does have 66,700-acre feet of annual water rights allocated to them by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from Lake Conroe but they cannot waste or use this water “any way
they want” for non-beneficial purposes according to state law.
We hold the SJRA Board fully accountable for failing their duty to objectively protect the minority water rights and resources of Lake Conroe and failing to oppose the City of Houston’s (CoH) request to extend
the SLLP. The SLLP has no flooding mitigation benefit and negatively impacts Lake Conroe residents who have no recourse to object to the City of Houston requests. The CoH and the SJRA are fully aware that
the SLLP wastes water and is ineffective to reduce flooding yet for political reasons have renewed SLLP for until the end of 2022. Recent public comments by CoH Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin regarding delays
to the Lake Houston dam project state lowering may be needed as much as 3-5 years – well past 2022.
For all these reasons, the LCA has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The TCEQ issues water rights and has responsibility to regulate those
water rights and protect water waste or misuse. We hope for resolution by early 2021.
While we are waiting for final resolution the LCA will be encouraging and organizing Lake Conroe residents to protest and demand that the CoH and SJRA end the SLLP by April 2021.
Kevin Lacy – President Lake Conroe Association