LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE
February 18, 2010
On January 15, 2010, the Lake Conroe Association held its Annual Meeting at the San Jacinto River Authority’s office to summarize 2009 LCA activities for its members and elect the LCA Board for 2010. Through proxies submitted by LCA members, you have chosen to re-elect the 2009 LCA Board to the 2010 LCA Board. Your 2010 LCA Board consists of Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson and Sue Wheatley. Upon being re-elected for 2010, the LCA Board then voted the following into office for 2010: Mike Bleier, President; Ben Richardson, Vice President; Dawn Cleboski, Secretary; and Tom Butz, Treasurer. We thank our LCA members for supporting us and I thank the LCA Board for volunteering their time for yet again another year of service.
To provide a brief summary of 2009 activities, I list the following:
- Dam repair from Hurricane Ike damage was commenced in January, 2009 and completed in April, 2009
- Due to the collective efforts of many, Hydrilla was reduced to 2 acres by January, 2009
- Water Hyacinth reduced from 68 acres in October, 2008 to 13 acres in July, 2009
- Giant Salvinia reduced from 628 acres in October, 2008 to 50 acres in July, 2009
- Native plants were planted in Lake Conroe during 2009 by the Seven Cove Bass Club and Texas Parks & Wildlife to replace some of the native vegetation eaten by the White Amur Grass Carp
- A “Water Summit” was held by Judge Sadler and invited local officials (not including the LCA) to discuss water issues for our County
- The LCA sent a Water Question & Answer Survey to over 19,000 local residents and businesses to get responses to fourteen questions about water issues in our County and lake levels on Lake Conroe. Survey results from over 2,500 respondents were submitted to attendees of the ‘Water Summit”. Subsequent to this, the LCA has been included in most all meetings with local officials regarding water issues.
To give you a sense of what the LCA Board does on your behalf other than meet once a month, during 2009 we met with State Senator Nichols, State Representative Brandon Creighton, Conroe Mayor Melder, County Judge Sadler, County Commissioners Meador and Doyal, the San Jacinto River Authority, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Woodlands Township Board, Lake Conroe Communities Network, and the Seven Coves Bass Club. We present to Property Owner Associations and various local groups upon request. We testified in Austin over funding for aquatic plant management. And taking the lion share of our time currently, we involve ourselves in the various water issues for our County in cooperation with many involved parties.
I don’t know if you’re tired of the overall “water topic” in our County, but I’d be remiss to ignore the problem in this update. I divide the “water topic” into three catagories: Water contracts with large water users, Lake levels on Lake Conroe, and Future water sources for our County. We have stayed away from the category “Water contracts with large water users” since this is an individual issue between The City of Conroe, various MUD Districts and the San Jacinto River Authority. We hope they will collectively resolve this situation to provide the best solution for everyone involved. On the category “Future water sources for our County”, this topic is somewhat “tabled” currently (and will be picked up again in the near future). I say “tabled” because the immediate priority has been resolving the issue of “Water contracts with large water users” and the necessity for the San Jacinto River Authority to initiate construction of its water treatment plant and pipelines by the imposed 2016 completion deadline. Judge Sadler did present his concept of a future reservoir site within our County to the Region H Water Planning Board, but that Board elected to exclude this request currently based on a lack of adequate engineering studies at this time. A thorough review of reservoir site options and cost comparisons to other sources of water such as buying water from the Trinity River Authority or drilling deep wells to capture “brackish water” (water with a high salt content located below the aquifers we currently utilize) will be further explored this year independently by a variety of entities. While the San Jacinto River Authority has not committed to review alternative reservoir sites until after 2016, we are hopeful that their timetable will be moved up and resources allocated to this review prior to 2016. And that leaves us with the topic of “Lake levels on Lake Conroe”……a topic of great interest to our many LCA members.
Rather than go down the arguments that “Lake Conroe was built as a reservoir and not for the benefit of lakefront owners” or “Lowering the level of Lake Conroe will have enormous affects on the local economy and property values”, I’ll just summarize what’s being done to review the data regarding lake levels. The San Jacinto River Authority hired an independent consulting firm to utilize historic data to project the potential effects on our lake levels and, based on reports provided to them by those consultants, concluded that “The true effect of SJRA’s plan on the lake level of Lake Conroe will be minimal”. It appears that all in the County are not quite ready to accept that conclusion. While I, personally, waded through piles of data and reports to try to come to the same conclusion as SJRA, I found the sheer quantity of data to be daunting and my engineering expertise lacking to report as any type of “expert”. Fortunately, in attending a meeting at SJRA’s office last week, I learned that plenty of entities have engaged their own consultants to review the work completed by SJRA’s consultants. In fact, this data and the conclusions reached are being currently reviewed by a minimum of five (5) other consulting firms employed individually by the City of Conroe, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, a group of MUD Districts and a group of local developers whose future projects would be negatively affected by low lake levels. While I do not have a specific timetable from them on completion of their five independent reviews, I’m confident all understand time is of the essence and that they are far more qualified than I to adequately review this important topic.
But, here are a few of things I can share with you based on our involvement to date. SJRA presents information that in future years of maximum water use (2045 and beyond by their estimation) where 100,000 acre feet per year are drawn from Lake Conroe (which SJRA refers to as “4 feet of water”), we should not be concerned because an average of seven (7) feet of water is released through the dam each year. First, I’d like to clarify that 100,000 acre feet is far closer to “5 feet of water” than “4 feet of water”. Second, the conclusion that the 100,000 acre feet per year of water won’t be reached until 2045 is based on two critical assumptions: 1) Projected population growth, and 2) Estimated re-charge rate of our aquifer. If either of these assumptions are in error, we could see the use of that 100,000 acre feet per year much earlier than 2045. And third, while stating that an “average” of seven feet of water is released through the dam each year, the use of this “average” is quite misleading. In fact, in the ten years ended 2008, less than 100,000 acre feet per year were released in five (5) out of the past ten (10) years. Specifically, releases were as follows: 1999….68,531 acre feet, 2000….15,391 acre feet, 2003….85,978 acre feet, 2006….10,391 acre feet, and 2008….58,193 acre feet. We look forward to these five consulting firms reviewing SJRA’s historical data and the underlying assumptions applied, and we hope they reinforce SJRA’s conclusion that “lake level effects will be minimal”. It would be wonderful to have all agree on the validity of SJRA’s conclusions and get us all moving in one direction together on the lake level topic.
While I have not discussed the need for Water Conservation, it clearly remains a vital topic for our future. Since the Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) has created a committee to review this area, the LCA did not see the need for a duplication of efforts. The LCA does have a LCA Board Member on LCCN’s Water Committee. LCCN is a valuable local organization who tackles numerous topics on our collective behalf, and they deserve our support and thanks.
If you were wondering, we estimate that approximately 59,000 White Amur Grass Carp are still alive currently in Lake Conroe. This is based on Texas Parks & Wildlife’s assumption of a 32% mortality rate per year and no reproduction of the genetically modified species.
Just a reminder…..early voting is currently being conducted for the March 2 primary elections. For many on Lake Conroe, the closest location is the West County Courthouse Annex at 19380 Texas 105 West, Suite 507 in Montgomery. The Courier lists all early voting locations and times if you’re looking for an alternative site. Whether you early vote or vote on March 2, please voice your opinion by voting.
January rainfall at the damsite totaled2.28 inches and February rainfall through February 17 totalled 2.44 inches. In reviewing data from the damsite between 1999 and 2008, average January rainfall has equated to3.81 inches and average February rainfall for 17 days has equated to 2.09 inches. Water is currently being released from the dam and today’s lake level is 201.16. The average temperature in January and February is 47 degrees and 52 degrees, respectively, compared to our actual 2010 results of 46 degrees for January and 42 degrees for February.
And finally, the LCA is trying to update a list of Property Owners’ Associations. This information would be used to keep the various Lake Conroe communities advised of issues critical to our lake. Would you please contact the head of your POA and request that they provide us with 1) Name of your subdivision or lakefront community, 2) An e-mail contact for the POA, and 3) A phone number or contact for the POA if no e-mail is available? This information will be used only by the LCA and not shared with anyone. Please send replies to our LCA Board Member Jim Pohoski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration in this request.
We hope you found this LCA President’s Update to be informative and appreciate your continuing support. Should you have questions or feedback, e-mails can be sent to www.lakeconroeassociation.com. Let’s look forward to wonderful Spring and Summer seasons ahead.
Working for you,
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association