Recover Lake Houston

#LivesOverLevels Update: Outcome of SJRA Vote to Lower Lake Conroe

SJRA Board Approves the Temporary and Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe

On February 20, the SJRA Board approved the temporary and seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe through December 2022.

The temporary seasonal lowering will begin in the spring on April 1 with SJRA gradually reducing the lake to an elevation of 200 ft-msl. This strategy is no different to 2019 Spring Mitigation Strategy.

In the fall, SJRA voted to continue at the elevation of 200 ft-msl from August 1 to August 31. Then after September 1, SJRA will lower the elevation to 199.5 ft-msl until September 30. The SJRA also voted that the City of Houston has the option to lower the lake level 6 more inches in the event of a named storm. This is effective through December 2022.

The Lake Houston Area Chamber has been advocating to renew the temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe to increase capacity in the lake and reduce the need for high volume releases which flow into the embattled West Fork of the San Jacinto River. The Chamber has worked in conjunction with area elected officials through its Long Term Recovery Task Force since 2017 on the strategy and has twice been successful, securing the lowering protocol in 2018 and 2019.

On January 6 the Chamber launched their #LivesOverLevels campaign requesting for the SJRA Board to once again approve the seasonal lowering for 2020. The campaign was in response to a group of homeowners around Lake Conroe who began advocating against the lake lowering strategy.

FIVE REASONS WHY

Lowering the pool level is the responsible course of action for the following reasons:

Lowering Lake Conroe reduces the risk of downstream flooding

The Board’s decision to temporarily and seasonally lower Lake Conroe has undoubtedly helped mitigate flooding in the Lake Houston Area, as was the case during the May 10, 2019 rain event. SJRA data from the May 2019 floods show that had no releases occurred prior to the event, Lake Conroe would have been forced to release at a higher CFS during the event. This is extremely important because the West Fork of the San Jacinto River at US HWY 69 went into the moderate flood stage on Friday (5/3), on Tuesday (5/7) and Friday (5/10). Should Lake Conroe have been forced to release more water than it did, the Lake Houston Area would have experienced additional flooding. Lowering Lake Conroe protected numerous lives, homes and businesses; the actions by both the SJRA Board and Staff are to be commended for this.

It is a reasonable TEMPORARY solution while work continues on permanent infrastructure

Seasonal lowering would end when the Lake Houston Gate Project Is complete and operational. In August 2019, FEMA awarded a $47 million grant with a 36-month timeline to install 10 gates on the Lake Houston Dam. The Lake Houston Dam project will allow the Coastal Water Authority to release larger amounts of water from Lake Houston ahead of heavy rains and to better coordinate water management with the SJRA. The 36-month timeline for the gates project to be completed began in 2019 with the project set for completion in 2022. It has never been requested, nor expected that the lowering of Lake Conroe would be a permanent solution.

It prioritizes the protection of life and property above access to recreation

Our area suffered drowning and storm related deaths from Hurricane Harvey and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages; not to mention the long-term mental suffering and fear that numerous residents and children are living with and suffering from to this day. Being unable to enjoy recreational activities on Lake Conroe and Lake Houston is a temporary inconvenience. However, that inconvenience does not compare to the potential for loss of lives, homes and businesses. Access to lake recreation should never be at the expense of endangering lives downstream especially considering the Charter of the SJRA states that its express purpose was for responsible water management.

The temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe satisfies Governor Abbott’s March 2018 directives

SJRA data has proven lake lowering prevented flooding in May 2019 with no detrimental impact to residents on Lake Conroe. If the Board chooses to not continue lowering Lake Conroe, it would be out of compliance with Governor Abbott’s mandate and require the SJRA to implement another initiative immediately. Lowering Lake Conroe on a temporary and seasonal basis not only satisfies Governor Abbott’s directives and has proven to help prevent downstream flooding, while yielding no harmful impact to residents around Lake Conroe. Although a brief inconvenience to recreational life for those living on Lake Conroe, the benefits of lowering the lake are too large to ignore.

It complements Harris County’s and the City of Houston’s efforts to mitigate flooding in the Lake Houston Area through numerous infrastructure improvements

The City of Houston is doing its part by also lowering Lake Houston in order to mitigate flooding. In the past two years, Lake Houston has lowered ahead of rain events on nine separate occasions. Much like residents who live on Lake Conroe, residents on Lake Houston are frequently inconvenienced by not being able to use the lake recreationally.

Area officials rallied to secure the funding for the Lake Houston gates and reduced the initial implementation timeline of 10 years down to three years. They’ve also continuously worked to secure dredging operations on the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston as well as advocating for upstream detention.

The SJRA has also been a partner throughout this process. The SJRA has participated, engaged and collaborated with our Lake Houston Area, working alongside our officials to secure projects.

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News Updates

February 24, 2020: Outcome of SJRA Vote to Lower Lake Conroe

February 20, 2020: SJRA Board Approves the Temporary and Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe

February 20, 2020: Lake Houston Area Chamber Board Issues Joint Resolution with Conroe/Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce Calling for Civil Discourse Regarding the February 20, 2020 SJRA Special Board Meeting

January 30, 2020: City of Humble Resolution Support for Temporary, Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe

January 27, 2020: Lives Over Levels Campaign Update: Change of Venue Request and Shirt Update

January 22, 2020: Harris County MUD No. 152 Letter of Supporting Temporary Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe for 2020

January 21, 2020: Commissioner Cagle’s Letter of Support

January 21, 2020: Chamber Requests Change of Venue for SJRA Board Meeting February 20

January 17, 2020: Houston City Council Member Dave Martin Letter of Support In Request of Venue Change For February 20 SJRA Board Meeting

January 16, 2020: Chamber Change of Venue Request to the SJRA Board of Directors

January 16, 2020: TWBD Approves $30 Million Grant for Lake Houston Dredging Program

January 10, 2020: TWBD Set to Approve $30 Million Grant for Lake Houston Dredging Program

January 10, 2020: Mayor Sylvester Turner Letter of Support for Seasonal Lowering to SJRA Board

January 9, 2020: Chamber Launches Lives Over Levels Campaign

December 11, 2019: Representative Dan Huberty Sends Letter of Support for Seasonal Lowering to SJRA Board

May 16: State agency rejects Montgomery County aquifer plan

May 8: 400 homes reportedly flooded in Kingwood

May 8: Kingwood businesses, schools become beds after heavy rains Tuesday

May 7: American Red Cross enables shelter at Kingwood First Baptist Church

May 7: Thunderstorms bring flooding, water rescues and power outages to Houston area

May 7: SJRA Reminds Community of Water Release Protocols

May 7: Heavy Rain Forecasted for Lake Houston Area

May 6: Kingwood high schools have minor flooding after weekend storm

May 6: 25-year old elementary teacher leaves legacy after tragic death in Kingwood during weekend storms

May 6: Over $200 million available for Houston suburb homeowners recovering from Harvey

April 15, 2019: After initial delays, $40M dredging of Kingwood mouth bar in Army Corps’ hands

Archived News

April 5, 2019: Houston submits application to dredge Kingwood mouth bar for federal approval

March 22, 2019: Toth adds funding request for Spring Creek reservoir to proposed state budget

March 12, 2019: SJRA, flood control district provide updates on pressing flood relief projects

March 1, 2019: Lowering of Lake Conroe during hurricane season gains approval again this year

February 13, 2019: Harris County awarded $2.7 million for San Jacinto River drainage plan

January 28, 2019: Conroe, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District settle lawsuit over regulations

January 3, 2019: San Jacinto River Authority continues to release water from Lake Conroe following recent rains

December 6, 2018: The Temporary Lowering of Lake Houston has Begun

September 6, 2018: Kingwood voters were ‘political force’ on flood bond

August 26, 2018: Lake Houston area gets recovery boost after $2.5 billion bond passes

July 29, 2018: Support Proposition A because there’s no Plan B

July 25, 2018: Thursday is final day to register to vote on Harris County flood bond

July 22, 2018: County finds support for Flood Bond plan, voters decide on August 25

July 22, 2018: Flood-weary residents offer project ideas for $2.5b bond proposal

July 12, 2018: Dam gates, dredging are major topics at county flood bond meeting in Kingwood

July 12, 2018: Dredging specifically identified on the Harris County Flood Bond program as a potential partnership project

July 11, 2018: When it comes to DDG, we need all three

July 10, 2018: Bond referendum over DDG (dredging, detention, and gates) continues to be a pressing issue for all of Harris County

July 9, 2018: County Hosting San Jacinto Watershed Meeting Tomorrow at Kingwood Park High School

July 6, 2018: Texas needs a sand plan for preventing floods

July 2, 2018: Mining along river may worsen floods

July 1, 2018: Dredging of San Jacinto’s west fork to begin soon

June 27, 2018: New Location: San Jacinto River Watershed Community Meeting

June 15, 2018: City of Houston and SJRA receive approval from TCEQ to seasonally lower Lake Conroe

May 18, 2018: Kevin Roberts, Texas State Representative of Dist. 126 sends letter to SJRA President in support of the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe.

May 1, 2018: San Jacinto River Authority creates a flood management division at April 26 meeting – Community Impact Newspaper Conroe|Montgomery

April 30, 2018: Post-Harvey: What has happened since Gov. Abbott visited Kingwood? – the Tribune

April 27, 2018: SJRA proposes lowering Lake Conroe up to 2 feet, on a seasonal basis – The Courier of Montgomery Co. 

April 27, 2018: Grant program to distribute more than $220K to Lake Houston area businesses affected by Harvey – Houston Chronicle 

April 27, 2018: Chamber officials lobby for Lake Houston Area during visit with legislators at Capitol Hill – Houston Chronicle

April 24, 2018: In Harvey’s Wake: Business slowly returns to normal in Kingwood – Patch 

April 17, 2018: Gov. Abbott: Dredging of the San Jacinto could begin next month – Houston Chronicle 

April 5, 2018: Letter of support from Congressman Ted Poe to William Long, Administrator of FEMA

April 4, 2018: Lt.Gov Patrick’s Lake Houston visit wraps-up Plea to See campaign – Houston Chronicle

April 3, 2018: SJRA takes on regional flood management, hires director at $180k a year – Houston Chronicle

March 29, 2018: Neighborhoods near Humble, Liberty could see homes flood again – Houston Chronicle 

March 29, 2018: Homeowners nervous about flooding as San Jacinto River creeps higher – KTRK-TV

March 29. 2018: Flood Warning: Homes at risk as San Jacinto River rises out of its banks – KHOU

March 27, 2018:  Temporary Reduction of Lake Houston – Councilman Dave Martin Press Release 

March 22, 2018: George P Bush becomes second elected official to visit Lake Houston – Houston Chronicle 

March 15, 2018:  New Flood Prevention Efforts in Kingwood, TX – Governor Abbott Press Release 

March 14, 2018: Abbott to discuss Harvey Recovery at Kingwood Community Meeting – Houston Chronicle 

March 7, 2018: Campaign invites officials to see  Lake Houston’s continued post-Harvey needs – Houston Chronicle

March 7, 2018: Dredging San Jacinto for flood protection a “priority” – Houston Chronicle

March 2, 2018: Dave Martin Schedules Kingwood/Lake Houston Area Town Hall Meeting – Press Release

February 26, 2018:  Significant Progress Made in Response to Immediate Needs of the Lake Houston Area – Dave Martin Press Release

February 5, 2018Lake Houston Residents Appointed to SJRA Board of Directors – Houston Chronicle

February 5, 2018: Governor Abbot Appoints Three to the San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors – Governor Abbott Press Release

January 9, 2018: Preparing Lake Houston area for the next Harvey – Community Impact

December 19, 2017: Q&A: SJRA General Manager Jace Houston talks Harvey – Community Impact

December 18, 2017: Natural Resource Chair Lyle Larson Letter to Jace Houston

December 18, 2017: Natural Resource Chair Lyle Larson Letter to Gov. Greg Abbott

December 15, 2017: Dave Martin Encourages Lake Houston Area Residents to Participate in the Recover Lake Houston Plea For Three – Press Release 

December 14, 2017: City of Humble passes resolution to support Plea For 3 Lake Houston

December 9, 2017: Lake Houston recovery campaign relies on community involvement – Houston Chronicle 

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