Say goodbye to normal – what a waste!
It has been two months since our last update, but there has been no news to report with either our complaint with the TCEQ or with our case still pending against the SJRA and the City of Houston in the Montgomery County Court. Given lake levels have been normal for most of 2021 many people have probably let the Seasonal Lake Lowering Program (SLLP) drop from their concerns. It certainly has been great to see lake levels go up and down with each rainfall as the lake was intended to be managed.
Unfortunately, the annual second phase of the SLLP starts August 1 and the City of Houston is expected to call for lake releases in what has become an arbitrary, calendar-driven, massive waste of water. If the CoH proceeds we could lose 21 to 27 inches of surface water from today’s level of 201.3’ above MSL.
I thought I would share the following facts about the SLLP and the LCA’s efforts to stop the SLLP.
Fact 1 – Lowering the lake will not prevent downstream flooding. Engineering studies prove this and none of the recommendations addressing flooding problems in the Lake Houston area identify Lake
Conroe as a cause of flooding. Lake Conroe reduced rain flow into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River by 40% during Hurricane Harvey. Flood waters from at least six other major streams were the primary source (approximately 85%) of flooding. The technical basis for these conclusions is overwhelming.
Fact 2 – Lowering the lake by 2 feet to 199’ msl will create boating hazards and make some areas too shallow to safely navigate. Over 70 area residents responded to an LCA survey with estimates of over $1 million in damages due to the 2018-2020 lower lake levels and the 600 days of abnormally low levels.
Fact 3 – Lowering the lake by 2 feet moves approximately 12-14 billion gallons to Lake Houston where it is not needed for any beneficial purpose. In the 2018-20 timeframe, the entirety of all of the Lake Conroe water released, almost 38 billion gallons, was wasted by the City of Houston (CoH), who allowed it to be discharged across the Lake Houston dam and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Fact 4 – The TCEQ authorization to allow the CoH to release water for the SLLP and not count against their annual water rights expired in June 2021. There has been no renewal, yet the SLLP continues.
Fact 5 – The TCEQ, the CoH, and the SJRA have not found fault with any of our data or conclusions about water waste or violation of water rights. Instead, the TCEQ has failed to rule, specifically on our main complaints. The CoH and the SJRA have fought over whether Montgomery County Court has jurisdiction; they have not addressed the merits of our complaints in their filings.
We are up against politics and a false narrative by politicians outside our area that the SLLP is effective when other measures would be hugely more effective. However, these measures have either been delayed or the funding diverted due to mismanagement and for past political gain.
The LCA continues to stand behind our facts and integrity to do the right thing for lake area residents. If lowering of the lake proceeds on August 1, we will be back in touch to let you know how you can help us try to end the SLLP. We need to end this hugely wasteful, ineffective program pushed upon us by politicians that we do not have the opportunity to vote against.
Kevin Lacy -President LCA