In a motion approved at its 4/26/2018 board meeting, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) officially entered the flood management business. The SJRA board also introduced the man, Chuck Gilman, who will head its new Flood Management Division. In a third major decision, the SJRA board voted to seasonally lower the level of Lake Conroe to help provide a larger buffer against future flooding.
New SJRA Flood Management Division Established
The SJRA board tasked its new flood management division with identifying “projects and other actions that may be undertaken by the Authority to address flood events along the San Jacinto River and protect the lives and property of Texans living within the watershed.” The FloodManagement Division will also identify sources of funding for such projects and implement them. The SJRA Flood Management Division will examine both immediate and long-term solutions that address flooding along the San Jacinto.
The SJRA has already begun work on an area-wide study of such possibilities. They include, according to board members, additional detention, more gages to enhance flood warning capabilities farther upstream, and a new system to help predict when floods will crest at various places within the watershed.
Chuck Gilman named new Director of Flood Management
Charles R. “Chuck” Gilman, Jr., P.E., will head the new division as Director of Flood Management. Gilman has more than 20 years of experience in civil engineering.
“We are extremely pleased to be adding someone of Chuck’s caliber and experience,” noted Jace Houston, SJRA’s general manager.
Jason Stuebe, Humble city manager, agreed with Houston’s assessment. “I think he will really understand the flooding issues facing our region and be able to help develop meaningful solutions.”
Before joining the SJRA, Gilman served as Deputy Chief Manager of the City of College Station and Interim City Manager. During his time at College Station, he also served as the Assistant Director of Water Services, Director of Capital Projects, and Director of Public Works. His administrative expertise pertains to utilities, transportation, drainage, emergency planning and response, planning and zoning, and legislative and governmental affairs.
Gilman is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Texas and holds a Project Management Professional Certification from the Project Management Institute.
Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe
At its 4/26/2018 meeting, the SJRA Board also voted to temporarily lower Lake Conroe on a seasonal basis. Lowering the lake will help comply with Governor Abbott’s directive to minimize downstream flooding.
Said Mark Micheletti, one of the two new SJRA board members from Kingwood, “This is major initiative and it will provide temporary relief until permanent solutions are in place.”
Normally, the SJRA maintains the level of Lake Conroe at 201 feet above mean sea level (MSL).The board voted to lower Lake Conroe by one foot to 200 MSL from April 1 through May 31. The board also voted to lower the lake between August and October, the peak of hurricane season. Lowering would start on August 1, with a target of 200 MSL. SJRA would lower it another foot – to 199 MSL – between September 1 and October 31. It is unclear at this time whether additional rain that fell in late October would be released or whether it would be retained to begin bringing the lake back up to its normal level.
In summary, this keeps the lake one foot below normal in the spring, one foot below normal during August and an average of two feet below normal for most of September and October. This plan will be reviewed annually in February to make adjustments as needed.
At the Board Meeting, four Kingwood residents and a representative of the Lake Conroe Area Homeowners Association, all spoke in favor of temporary seasonal adjustments to the lake level as a way to mitigate flooding.
Not Yet a Done Deal
Kaaren Cambio, the other new SJRA board member from Kingwood, said, “The plan is contingent on approval from other bodies. The TCEQ must allow an exception for the diversion of water and the City of Houston will need to approve this initiative. Nevertheless, until permanent measures can be implemented, winning the SJRA board’s approval to lower the lake is a major step in the right direction.”
By Bob Rehak
Posted April 27, 2018, 241 Days since Hurricane Harvey