Lake Conroe Lowered to Target Level for August; LCA May Be Gearing Up For Another Fight

Since August 1, the level of Lake Conroe has hovered around 200 feet. As of this writing, it stands at 199.95 feet, virtually at the target level of the seasonal lowering for the month. That’s three hundredths of a foot above its seasonal average for the last 46 years and five hundredths of a foot below the target level. Yet the Lake Conroe Association appears to be gearing up for another fight to end the program.

Lake Conroe level as of 8/10/20 at 4:30 pm. Source:

Seasonal Averages

Lake Conroe seasonal levels by month. Source: SJRA

History of Strategy

The SJRA started seasonally lowering the level of Lake Conroe in 2018 after Governor Abbott directed the SJRA to develop strategies to help protect downstream communities from flooding. Due to a slight drought in late 2019, the lake level did not recover quickly. The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) then organized protests as the SJRA reconsidered the strategy for this year.

Seasonal Release from Lake Conroe, 529 cfs from one tainter gate open six inches.
SJRA Seasonal Release on 4/15/2020. One tainter gate open six inches releases a slow, steady stream of 529 cfs. No one flooded downstream last Spring during the release.

Ultimately, the strategy adopted by the SJRA represented a compromise. During September/October, the lake will remain a half foot higher than in previous years (200 vs 199.5).

Here’s how the current and previous targets compare to what Mother Nature provides through rainfall and evaporation.

In August, little manual lowering should be needed. In September and October, much less lowering will be needed compared to the previous plan adopted in 2018.

SJRA’s Plan for Fall Lowering

SJRA’s current official policy reads as follows.

Beginning August 1, release only an amount of water from Lake Conroe to create a one foot capacity to catch rainfall and storm runoff (from 201’ msl to 200’ msl). After September 1, increase capacity an additional six inches (from 200’ msl to 199.5’ msl). If a named storm is predicted to impact our region, the COH may initiate an additional release of six inches (to 199’ msl) by notifying SJRA in writing of their call for release. Recapture beginning October 1.”

Compared to the seasonal average, the plan really only amounts to lowering the lake 2 to 3 inches in September and October.

Lake Conroe Association Gearing Up for Another Fight?

Regardless, the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) is reportedly gearing up for another fight.

Community Impact newspaper reported in its August 2020 issue that LCA filed a complaint with the TCEQ on June 30 to end the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe.

On August 7, they sent an email out to requesting Lake Conroe residents to donate money to the Lake Conroe Association so that it could “replenish the reserve funds spent to oppose the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) lake lowering program.”

In the next paragraph, they ask Lake Conroe residents to provide comments to the Sunset Commission reviewing the SJRA.

Screen Capture of LCA Communication on 9/7/2020. Links not active.

Neither of those two actions is a threat. But juxtaposing them like that is certainly walking up to the firing line … with the chamber loaded.

There sure is a lot of energy expended over two or three inches of water.

Lake Conroe people claimed last winter, when the SJRA was reconsidering the policy, that the lowering would not help Lake Houston Area residents. Lake Houston Area residents, still feeling the pain of Harvey, want all the help they can get.

Enough said.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/10/2020

1077 Days after Hurricane Harvey