The SJRA held its second of three board meetings last night to consider public input on its temporary policy of lowering Lake Conroe seasonally. Once again, red-shirted protesters from Lake Conroe showed up in busloads. About 50 people from the Lake Houston Area made it to the meeting. Lake Conroe people outnumbered them by an estimated 25:1. See below.
Lake Houston People Forced to Wait up to Four Hours to Speak
With the exception of several Lake Houston Area officials who spoke early, the vast majority of Lake Houston Area residents had to wait three to four hours for their 3 minutes at the microphone. Many had to leave before they got their chance to speak. Sadly, I knew what they planned to talk about. The SJRA needed to hear it; Lake Conroe residents needed to hear it, too. But neither group did.
Lake Conroe Residents Still Laboring Under Misinformation
During those three to four hours, scores of Lake Conroe residents took the mic to spout misinformation. The Lake Conroe Association fed them exaggerations, lies, and half-truths designed to whip them into a hysterical frenzy. To be fair, several told poignant personal stories about businesses that suffered at the shallow north end of the lake. A realtor mentioned that homes there were on the market longer and some were not getting their asking price.
But virtually all of the rest seemed unrestrained by facts or issues.
For instance, SJRA staff told the crowd upfront that one third of the water coming down the West Fork came from the Lake Conroe release. At least twenty Lake Conroe residents then got up and claimed that 14% of the water coming into Lake Houston was from the release. Statistical subterfuge!
While technically true, that distorts the picture. The SJRA has no control over East Fork water. The lake-lowering policy is designed to reduce West Fork damage.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Here are some more:
- “Lake Conroe had nothing to do with flooding Kingwood.” (Why were most areas dry then until Lake Conroe water hit town?)
- “If Kingwood people don’t want to flood, they shouldn’t buy homes in a flood plain.” (As if everyone who flooded was in a flood plain.)
- “There’s no proof that lowering Lake Conroe will help prevent flooding in Kingwood.” (The SJRA’s flood mitigation manager had just given a presentation explaining when it did.)
Six Inches Killing A 79′ Deep Lake
And then there were outright exaggerations. Staff explained that evaporation normally lowered Lake Conroe to within six inches of target levels in spring and hurricane season. That means, they’re really only lowering the lake intentionally another six inches! That’s as deep as a glass of ice tea. But still, scores of Lake Conroe residents steadfastly claimed that intentionally lowering the lake another six inches was “destroying”:
- The environment
- Montgomery County’s tax base
- The lake
- The county’s school system
- Home values
- Safety on the lake
- Bass fishing
Lake Conroe is normally 79 feet deep at its deepest point.
Adding Insult to Injury
Lake Conroe residents repeatedly blamed Kingwood residents for not whipping the City of Houston into shape and getting it to act faster. They blamed Harris County Flood Control for dragging its feet and not spending its flood bond money fast enough. Incredibly, they denied that people died after the Lake Conroe release hit Kingwood. They even heckled State Rep. Dan Huberty and interrupted other Kingwood speakers.
All in all, it was more fun than a firing squad.
Sadly, I don’t think many, or even any, of those who talked had any idea of the real devastation that happened in Kingwood.
There has to be a better way to discuss these issues.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/22/2020
876 Days after Hurricane Harvey