LCA President’s Update
October 3, 2012
We hope you have enjoyed a beautiful, safe Summer and are now looking forward to some cooler Fall weather. We wanted to provide you with a brief update on happenings within our lake community just to stay “in touch”. In no order of significance:
LAKE LEVEL: 198.27 (relative to “normal pool elevation” of 201.0….2.73 feet down)
INVASIVE PLANTS: With Texas Parks & Wildlife having completed their annual end of Summer vegetation survey at Lake Conroe, we are pleased to report only 0.1 acres of Hydrilla (with approximately 20,000 White Amur Grass Carp still alive). It is not anticipated that additional White Amur will be added in 2012 or 2013 but, as the White Amur continue to die off, a maintenance stocking of White Amur will be provided annually to keep Hydrilla at a minimal level. Very little Giant Salvinia and only 34 acres of Water Hyacinth were discovered, and both have been treated with aquatic herbicides since the survey completion.
NATIVE PLANTS: There was great concern over the reduction of native vegetation in Lake Conroe to only 150 acres by 2010. Native vegetation in a necessary component in our lake ecosystem, and it was dramatically reduced by the White Amur introduced to control Hydrilla. Through efforts by Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Seven Coves Bass Club, native plants have been added to Lake Conroe in protective cages to facilitate re-population of native plants along our shorelines. Further, lower lake levels have permitted certain woody plants to take hold in shallow waters. The recent Texas Parks & Wildlife survey concluded that 1,835 acres of native vegetation occupy Lake Conroe. This is good news for residents and anglers alike. We believe all involved parties (Texas Parks & Wildlife, San Jacinto River Authority, Lake Conroe Association and angling organizations) have a better understanding of how to balance the control of invasive plants such as Hydrilla, maintenance of native vegetation and future quantities of White Amur.
2012 LCA ACTIVITIES: With Hydrilla currently under control, no monies were expended by the LCA for the control of invasive vegetation in 2012. We were primarily involved in two activities in 2012. First, we followed through to completion the issuance of the Texas A&M Report entitled “Impact of Lake-Level Reductions on Lake Conroe Area: Lake Area Property Values, Property Tax Revenues and Sales Tax Revenues” which is discussed below and, for which, we expended $69,000 of the $152,000 total cost. Second, we funded $29,000 of the total $39,000 cost to remove approximately 450 stumps from the main body of Lake Conroe. This project was endorsed by members of the Lake Conroe Advisory Committee (Texas Parks & Wildlife, San Jacinto River Authority, Lake Conroe Association and angling organizations) for the improved safety of boating and related activities on Lake Conroe.
SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY SURFACE WATER TREATMENT FACILITIES: As part of Groundwater Protection Plan to reduce the use of water from the Jasper Aquifer (which currently supplies all of our water for Montgomery County), construction of the treatment facilities at the Lake Conroe dam commenced August 1, 2012. The facilities are expected to be completed in mid-2015 at an estimated cost of $190 million. All facets of the project will be up and running before the January 1, 2016 deadline set by the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District.
CATAHOULA AQUIFER UPDATE: Having drilled successful test wells (some of which are already operational) into the Catahoula Aquifer, concerns existed over whether removal of water from the Catahoula Aquifer could diminish water levels in the Jasper Aquifer. In a model study presented to the Lone Star Conservation District by independent hydrologists from LBG_Guyton Associates, in was concluded that use of the Catahoula Aquifer would have little effect on the Jasper Aquifer.
WATER CONSERVATION PROJECT: Region H and the Texas Water Foundation have initiated a project to quantify and measure the ongoing water conservation efforts in the region. Region H of the State Water Plan consists of all or part of 15 counties, including Montgomery. Obviously, we need water to sustain our current population and its projected growth. The project allows participants to use information to track the implementation, water savings, costs and benefits of actual conservation activities over time. The City of Conroe has agreed to help fund the project with a total of $6,000 over the next two years. Further, Region H’s plan calls for an additional water supply of 1.5 million acre feet by 2060 and five new major reservoirs to meet some of that demand.
TEXAS A&M STUDY ON “IMPACT OF LAKE-LEVEL REDUCTIONS ON LAKE CONROE AREA”: The Texas A&M Study contracted by Montgomery County, coordinated by the Lake Conroe Communities Network and principally funded by the Lake Conroe Association has been completed and published. A copy of the complete report can be accessed through our LCA website www.lcatx.com. While by no means a complete summary of the Study, I have listed some key points of interest in my opinion as follows:
- Lake levels are expected to fall more than 4 feet below full pool (201.0 feet) 1.6 times more often between 2016 and 2026 compared to today, and 8.5 times more often by 2046.
- Lake levels more than 4 feet below full pool occurred only 2.8% of the time in the history of the lake. With the implementation of the Groundwater Protection Plan, lake levels are expected to fall more than 4 feet below full pool as follows: 2016-2026….4.6% of the time, 2026-2036….7.9% of the time, 2036-2046…12.7% of the time, and beyond 2046….22.0% of the time.
- For each foot of lake level decline beyond the first 2 feet, the City of Montgomery decreases retail trade revenue by $1.6 million per year per foot.
- Direct economic impacts of lake level fluctuations occur primarily in the geographic area closest to the lake and most directly associated with retail trade activities.
- In many ways, the future of Lake Conroe is the future of Montgomery County. Lake Conroe has a major role in the local economy and real estate values. Lake Conroe plays a critical role in tourism and recreation, providing natural habitat for the fishery and waterfowl populations. And now under the GRP, it is expected to contribute to the consumable water supply in Montgomery County.
- The costs of using water from Lake Conroe will be borne ultimately by county residents and businesses in increased local taxes (presumably to pay for bonds for construction), increased water rates, and potentially reduced real estate values near the lake.
- Gradual sedimentation is reducing the lake volume. Upon lake construction in 1974, lake volume approximated 430,260 acre feet. Current volume is estimated to be 406,660 acre feet and, by 2045, the volume is estimated to be reduced to 384,975 acre feet (or 10.5%).
- Once utilizing water from Lake Conroe under the GRP, future droughts will result in more frequent drops in lake levels, lower lake levels, and levels will remain low for longer periods compared to the same size drought in the past.
I’m sorry for reaching a third page of text, but I just couldn’t decide where to reduce content. I congratulate you for reaching the end! On behalf of the entire Board of the Lake Conroe Association, thank you for your continued support and we wish you happiness and health through this Fall season.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association