SJRA Board Meeting Packed by “Stop the Drop” Protesters

More than 150 red-shirted “Stop the Drop” protesters packed the SJRA board meeting at the Lake Conroe Dam this morning. Lake Conroe lakefront homeowners came to protest the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe. According to SJRA Board Member Mark Micheletti, two and a half busloads of additional angry protesters had to be turned away because they exceeded the building’s capacity.

Five Lake Houston area residents came to speak. However, they were outnumbered by more than 30 to 1. The Lake Houston Area residents made good presentations, but on the basis of numbers alone, the well organized sea of protesters overwhelmed them. The disparity in numbers between the two sides sent a not-so-subtle message to SJRA board members.

People protesting the Lake Conroe seasonal lowering policy packed the SJRA board meeting on 12/12/2019. Photo taken before meeting shows only half the room.

Goal of Policy

The SJRA designed the temporary lowering program to provide downstream residents with an extra cushion against flooding until flood mitigation measures in the Lake Houston Area are completed. The measures include dredging and the installation of additional gates on the Lake Houston Dam. This year, the SJRA lowered the Lake Conroe one foot during the rainiest part of Spring and two feet during the peak of Hurricane Season.

Since the policy started in the second half of 2018, no downstream or Lake Conroe residents have flooded because of releases from Lake Conroe.

Misperceptions Abound

Organizers had fed protesters false information. For instance, many protesters claimed:

  • Dredging in the West Fork is done. It isn’t. State Representative Dan Huberty is organizing a follow-on program to supplement the Army Corps program which finished around Labor Day.
  • Because some Kingwood East Fork residents flooded during Imelda, it proves that Lake Conroe has nothing to do with Kingwood flooding. The East and West Forks (which includes Lake Conroe) are in different watersheds. During Imelda, the East Fork received 20 inches of rain while Lake Conroe received only 2.
  • Lake Conroe releases during Harvey comprised just 15% of the water flowing into Lake Houston and that was not a large enough percentage to affect flooding. The statistic may be literally true. But it’s misleading. It has nothing to do with the flooding on the West Fork. And that’s where the vast majority of all damage occurred. Lake Conroe releases comprised ONE THIRD of the water coming down the West Fork. Furthermore, they came at the peak of the flood.

Two More Board Meetings Before Vote

The SJRA board meets again in January and February before voting on whether to extend the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe another year. The next meeting will be at the The Lonestar Convention & Expo Center so more people can attend.

The board was afraid that if it chose a Lake Houston venue for the meeting, it would look as if they were trying to stifle dissent.

Watch for more details in January about the next board meeting.

Another meeting like this could mean the end of Lake Houston’s only flood protection measure at the moment.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/12/2019

835 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 82 since Imelda