Tonight, the SJRA board will decide whether to continue the temporary seasonal lake lowering policy until other flood mitigation measures can be put in place. Last night, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner proposed a compromise. Instead of lowering Lake Conroe to 199 feet in the fall, he suggests lowering it to 199.5, but would lower it the other half foot five days in advance of any predicted tropical storm.
Comparing Proposal to Historical Averages
SJRA data shows that 199.5 is within 1.5 to 4 inches of the historical averages for affected months.
If Lake Conroe residents can’t live with that, then they should complain to Mother Nature. The difference will be barely perceptible.
But the ability to lower the lake further five days in advance of a tropical storm still provides downstream residents with safety. Five days should be enough time to get water into the Gulf of Mexico.
The extra storage capacity created in the lake should help protect Conroe residents as well as those downstream by:
- Delaying the need to release floodwater
- Giving peaks on other tributaries time to pass through the watershed
- Reducing the width and peak of floodwaters downstream
- Giving the SJRA more time to issue evacuation warnings if necessary
- Giving downstream residents more time to evacuate and move cars and other valuables to higher ground
A few inches seems like a good compromise that may be best for everyone involved.
One Additional Recommendation
However, I would add one other thing to the request. During releases, I would urge the SJRA to hold back as much water as possible as long as possible.
Instead of returning the lake to normal as soon as possible, keep it as high as possible without jeopardizing safety. Make that a gate operation policy.
This should give peaks on other watersheds time to pass through Lake Houston before releases from Lake Conroe add to them.
Respectfully submitted by Bob Rehak on 2/20/2020
905 Days after Hurricane Harvey