News / Blog
LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE
As of March 11th, 2020
About three weeks ago on February 20th the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board held their special meeting to review SJRA staff proposals on the Seasonal Lake Lowering Program (SLLP), hear public comment from around 100 of the 1300 meeting attendees, and make a recommendation to the City of Houston (CoH) as to the renewal of the SLLP. The City of Houston sent in a recommendation to the SJRA Board late in the evening of February 19th which was posted publicly. This letter was subsequently replaced (due to serious errors) but the second letter from the CoH was not made public resulting in significant confusion during the meeting as to the details of the revised CoH proposal.
The SJRA staff, using the results of studies of recent rainfall events, dredging that has been completed, and the storage capacity that both Lake Conroe and Lake Houston gain from seasonal lowering recommended to the SJRA Board that each lake be lowered 1’ from normal pool twice a year for two months each period (April & May and August & September). The result would have been that Lake Conroe would not be lowered intentionally below 200’ msl – compared to the current program of lowering to 199’ msl in the Fall. The lower water level of 199’ msl has led to significant problems for residents and lasted seven months vs two as the program intends due to low rainfall in Fall 2019 & 2020.
The subsequent SJRA Board discussion of both the CoH proposal and the SJRA Staff proposal was very confusing to many in the audience as multiple proposals and call for motions and votes were occurring simultaneously. The SJRA Board Chairman, Lloyd Tisdale, outlined a compromise proposal that was ultimately voted upon and passed by a vote of 5 to 1. The outline of the proposal is below and was published in the latest SJRA press release.
After approximately five hours of presentation, public comment, and board discussion, the SJRA Board of Directors approved the following recommendation to the COH regarding the operation of Lake Conroe:
Spring strategy: Beginning April 1, release only an amount of water from Lake Conroe to create a one foot capacity to catch rainfall and storm runoff (from 201’ mean sea level to 200’ msl). Recapture of lake level beginning June 1.
Fall strategy: Beginning August 1, release only an amount of water from Lake Conroe to create a one foot capacity to catch rainfall and storm runoff (from 201’ msl to 200’ msl). After September 1, increase capacity an additional six inches (from 200’ msl to 199.5’ msl). If a named storm is predicted to impact our region, the COH may initiate an additional release of six inches (to 199’ msl) by notifying SJRA in writing of their call for release. Recapture beginning October 1.
All releases come from the COH’s 2/3 share of permitted water supply in Lake Conroe at the city’s request. SJRA staff to coordinate with COH staff on the details and timing of any releases.
If the lake level of Lake Conroe has already dropped to the target elevation due to natural evaporation, no releases should be made.
There are some limited positives from the new proposal and one massive negative outcome for Lake Conroe residents. First the positives – without the significant grass roots efforts and local political support the existing program would have likely been renewed. These efforts and challenge to the technical basis for lowering resulted in a proposal by SJRA staff that was a compromise between normal pool levels and lowering by 2’ in the Fall. The SJRA Staff recommendation was not approved and instead the SJRA Board proposal does not seem to be based upon any science or technical review. Instead for the second time we are facing a lowering program that is a political compromise largely due to a last minute proposal (not made public) from the City of Houston. The massive negative of the new program is that the original lowering program that was clearly documented as a temporary measure in 2018 will now be in place from 2018 to the end of 2022 and not ended in 1-2 years as initially promised.
The LCA remains confident that there is no existing science or technical study or actual rain event that supports that the SLLP would be effective to reduce downstream flooding in a significant rain event. It is very disappointing that despite a second technical study funded by the LCA, and completed by Feb 14th, it was apparently not considered by the SJRA Board in their Feb 20th discussions. As we have yet to see the proposal that has been sent to the City of Houston the SJRA Board decision is not yet final.
Given the last minute request from the City of Houston which introduced the recommendation for pre-releases from Lake Conroe ahead of named storms and that this option had been consistently declared not viable by the SJRA Board and Management it would have been in the best interest of all parties to defer the vote given the new technical study and last minute CoH requests. A “midnight” request that overrides the SJRA professional staff recommendations and also introduces a significant new option without public knowledge or comment reinforces the reasons that local residents feel the SJRA Board decision process is flawed and not based upon sound technical criteria – but political maneuvering.
We will continue to monitor the developments and you will find periodic updates on our new LCA website http://lcatx.com and our https://www.stopdraininglakeconroe.com partner website. We believe there is still a lot of misinformation about the benefits of lake lowering and a significant lack of documented information on damage from the SLLP program. We will continue to actively correct false information as well as push the appropriate regulatory agencies and state entities to properly asses the costs and negative impacts of an extended lowering program.
We do stand ready to cooperatively work to reduce flooding in any area and will support regional cooperation based upon proper technical studies and impact assessments.
Finally, you will note that this update is signed by a new Lake Conroe Association President. I have been selected by the LCA Board to replace Mike Bleier who served as LCA President for fifteen years. Mike’s contribution and dedication to serving the Lake Conroe residents is greatly appreciated and valued. We are pleased he will remain an active LCA Board member and have more time with his family and at home. Mike is planning on writing a recap of the last fifteen years accomplishments that we will gladly publish in the next month.
I look forward to building new partnerships and contacts in my new role. My email is and business phone number is 936-217-2340 if you wish to contact me.
President Lake Conroe Association
The San Jacinto River Authority voted 5-1 at a special meeting Feb. 20 to continue temporarily lowering Lake Conroe until December 2022, with some modifications.
After listening to four hours of public comment—with Lake Houston/Kingwood residents urging a continuation of lowering, and Lake Conroe residents asking for an end to it—board members then debated for nearly an hour, changing their proposal multiple times. The board ultimately voted to change the fall lowering while keeping the spring lowering the same.
Fall lowering would begin Aug. 1, lowering the lake to 200 ft. Beginning Sept. 1, it would be further lowered to 199.5 ft.—instead of 199 ft. as has been in effect.
If a storm enters the region, the city of Houston may initiate an additional prerelease to 199 ft. by notifying the SJRA in writing of their call for prerelease.
ref Community impact newspaper Conroe 2-21-2020
Listen to the SJRA Board...
What has changed April 2018 to February 2020?
Still No Science
Al Heilman MD
A copy of the audio from the SJRA board meeting on April 26, 2018 was obtained thru a Freedom of Information request. It is available below. Times are referenced for each of the comments.
1. The communities of Lake Houston and Kingwood had significant flooding and they made their appeals to the SJRA board. 5 comments (4 lake Houston and 1 Lake Conroe) to start the meeting.
2. The Board was informed by Jace Houston, the general manager, that the City of Houston had approved a plan that was ½ of the lowering the current plan has. It starts around the 58-minute mark on the audio.
3. The current lowering was presented by the board president without any reference to science to support this decision. Nor was there any time for public comment. It was an emotional response to the Kingwood/ Lake Houston community’s loss. 1hr 27 mark on the audio.
4. This plan could have environmental impacts on the fish and wildlife. 1hr 26 mark on the audio.
5. The plan that had a minimal cost. 1hr 26 mark on the audio.
6. The most effective solutions for Lake Houston flooding are solutions downstream of the dam. 1hr 27 mark on the audio.
7. The Board stated that they needed to communicate better with the communities. 1 hr. 42 mark on the audio.
Fast forward to February 2020
1. There are no environmental and economic impact studies for this plan’s effects on Lake Conroe. The Seasonal Lowering has a significant cost to the businesses, homeowners, and the environment.
2. There is still no science that shows that this is an effective solution to downstream flooding for the Lake Houston Communities. The dredging is complete, which was the original reason for this plan.
Yet, the SJRA board is planning on voting whether to continue this temporary plan for a 3rd year.
The Lake Houston communities have struggled to get relief from the City of Houston for its flooding issues. Why has it taken so long to get them effective relief?
The communication with the SJRA is broken and needs to be fixed. It must be open and transparent. A press release by the SJRA, is not an effective communication method for any of the communities. Neither are meetings where you have no responses, and blank stares from board members. We need open quarterly or semi-annual presentations from the board about its plans. There needs to be a 2-way exchange of ideas and listening and respecting each other’s opinions and ideas. Emails to the SJRA board need to be answered.
SJRA special Board meeting Tuesday night completely filled the Lone Star Convention center with a standing room only crowd and a sea of Red Supporters. Over 1000 in attendance. Presentations and data from the Sjra were laking 2 key points. Here is a link to the slides from the SJRA presentation.
Where's the Science?
1. The SJRA board did not present one engineering study that presented data on what the effect of the 2 foot seasonal lowering of lake Conroe would be following water from the Lake conroe dam and then following the water all the way to Kingwood and Lake Houston.
(view the you tube video as to why this is needed)
2. The SJRA board had not done any studies looking into the economic or the environmental impacts the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe had had on the lake communities
Significant stories of frustration and damage were presented from the residents of the lake Conroe Communities.
In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, Montgomery County commissioners approved a resolution opposing the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe.
Here are the SJRA Speaker registration forms and the rules
Click on the image to download the file
Representative Metcalf and Senator Nichols send letters to the SJRA Board asking them to Stop the Seasonal Drainage of Lake Conroe.
December 23, 2019
The Conroe City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe ahead of the San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors consideration to continue the strategy in February. Sends a letter to Governor Abbott. reference
SJRA Board Meeting
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
was closed due to overwhelming attendance, by the fire marshal.
The next SJRA Board meeting should be held in a venue where everyone can attend.
Write to the SJRA Board and your elected officials and voice your opinions.
Walden Residents packed the December 12th 2019, SJRA Board meeting. Many others were waiting to get in when the meeting was closed by the fire marshal at 7 30 am. Meeting was to start at 8 am. Many cars were turned away. Write to the SJRA Board and express your opinion. Here is a link to their website: