TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY LAKE LEVEL SURVEY:
The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) has been working with Texas A&M University and Montgomery County to assess the impact of projected lake level fluctuations resulting from the San Jacinto River Authority’s (SJRA) Groundwater Reduction Plan. Thanks to the generosity of LCA Members, the LCA was able to contribute $62,000 towards this $142,000 project. Lake Conroe is certainly a treasured amenity for residents of Montgomery County, and reduced lake levels clearly impact use of the lake, local business success and residential property values.
Aside from evaluating engineering studies commissioned by SJRA to estimate the effects of removing water from Lake Conroe, an important element of the Texas A&M Study is a survey of local residents. Texas A&M mailed invitations to participate in the Lake Conroe Survey in late July to a one-in-ten random sample of residents within four miles of the lake. It is very important to respond so that A&M’s findings can incorporate our perspectives into estimates of the potential impact of the proposed SJRA Groundwater Reduction Plan. These findings will help our leaders make choices that are sensitive to our perspectives and concerns as they address the serious water issues in our County.
(1) If you are one of those who have already responded, thank you very much!
(2) If you received an invitation but have not been able to respond, it’s not too late. Go to the website (hrrc.arch.tamu.edu/lakeconroe) and enter your unique identifier from the post card you received in the mail. If you’ve misplaced the post card, you can call the research team at Texas A&M at 979-845-7284 and they will be happy to get you started.
(3) IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE SURVEY BUT DID NOT RECEIVE AN INVITATION, you can send your e-mail address to Dr. George Rogers of Texas A&M at GRogers@TAMU.edu with a subject line of Lake Conroe Study. He will accumulate these and forward them to the research team to invite you to participate in an “interested parties” survey that is separate from the random sample. This interested parties survey is your opportunity to share your perspectives and be heard. The survey will ask for your street address so that the data can be geo-coded, and the address will be subsequently deleted to assure anonymity.
Usually, the LCA asks you to make a donation and WE do the work. This time, we aren’t asking for money but, rather, a small amount of your time. We can’t respond to a survey requesting YOUR opinions. We REALLY need your participation at this time! PLEASE HELP US HELP YOU!
WATER MEETING CALLED BY JUDGE SADLER:
I was asked to attend a water meeting yesterday by Montgomery County Judge Sadler. Attendees included representatives from The City of Houston, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, SJRA, Region H Water Planning Committee, Montgomery County, The City of Conroe, Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) and various interested parties. I thought you would appreciate an update of what I interpreted was presented in that meeting. I list the following:
1) Current lake level on Lake Conroe is 196.92 (normal pool is 201.0). The lowest Lake Conroe has ever reached is a level of 196.
2) The City of Houston started removing water from Lake Conroe on Tuesday, August 16, 2011. The estimated rate of removal equates to approximately one half inch per day, or fifteen inches per month. Without significant rainfall to modify their plans, The City of Houston expects to remove a total of three feet of water by the end of 2011. As two thirds owner of Lake Conroe’s water supply, The City of Houston will pay nothing to SJRA for this water.
3) The City of Houston’s contract with SJRA for water removal is based on a calendar year. They can remove two thirds of 100,000 acre feet of water (or approximately 3 feet of water) in any calendar year. Therefore, if significant rainfall does not modify their plans, The City of Houston COULD start withdrawing water from Lake Conroe under its 2012 allotment starting January 1, 2012. At one half inch per day, The City of Houston COULD remove another 3 feet of water from Lake Conroe by the end of March, 2012. Since water use reduces during the Winter season, it would be more likely that The City of Houston removes that 3 feet of water by mid-2012 and not the end of March, 2012.
4) Summer evaporation rates approximate one third to one half inch per day, and total approximately 4 feet per year.
5) While weather forecasters are certainly not always accurate, climatologists do not foresee significant rain for our area for the balance of 2011. Further, with an estimated 50% accuracy, climatologists predict a 2012 drought similar to that we are experiencing in 2011.
6) In big, round numbers, our lake level could reach a level of 190 (or eleven feet below normal pool) by the end of 2011. The math used would be: Current pool of 197, less 3 feet of water removed by The City of Houston, less 2 feet of water evaporated in the second half of Summer/Fall, less 1 ½ feet of water which could be sold by SJRA (their one third of 100,000 acre feet), less ½ foot of water to account for the surface of Lake Conroe reducing as the water level drops (similar to a bowl, more surface at the top of the bowl and reducing surface as you approach the bottom of the bowl).
7) Looking for the most time-effective solution to our water shortage, the individuals attending Judge Sadler;s meeting strongly encouraged immediately drilling further test wells into the Catahoula Aquifer. Determining the quality and sustainability of this aquifer is of utmost importance in evaluating our water options.
8) Judge Sadler also encouraged the Region H Water Planning Committee to move forward with evaluating the feasibility of building another reservoir in Montgomery County to supplement the waters of Lake Conroe. Previous requests of this nature in 2010 were denied by Region H. With Region H entering a new 5-year planning cycle beginning in 2012, Judge Sadler pointed out that ignoring this request for another 5 years would be unacceptable given water shortages across our area.
9) Judge Sadler further requested that Region H provide a thorough financial review comparing the costs of all water options available to our County including a new reservoir, buying water from the Trinity River Authority and a host of other potential options.
10) While only briefly discussed due to time constraints (priority topics were The City of Houston’s water withdrawl, projected lake levels, use of the Catahoula Aquifer, and Region H’s review of a new reservoir), other water topics of interest included conservation, water restrictions, use of treated effluent for golf course and residential irrigation, and mandatory use of treated effluent incorporated into the development of new communities for irrigation and water features.
Thank you for your support of the Lake Conroe Association and your interest in our Lake Conroe community.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association