The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) began slowly releasing water yesterday afternoon to lower the level of Lake Conroe to 200 feet per the temporary seasonal release policy adopted more than a year ago. When the seasonal release began, the lake stood at 201.01 feet – its normal target level. By noon today, the level stood at 200.94 feet.
Community Impact claims the release started at 4:20PM on 4/1/2020.
These pictures show the release.
Lake Lowering Policy by the Numbers
In the spring, SJRA lowers the lake one foot, starting April 1 and begins recapturing water on June 1.
In the summer and fall, it’s a little more complicated. On August 1, SJRA releases water again to reduce the lake level back to 200. Beginning Sept. 1, they take the water down another six inches. But the City of Houston may call for it to be lowered another six inches (to 199) if a named storm is predicted in the Gulf.
Statistically, the peak of hurricane season is September 10. The lake-lowering policy builds additional capacity to absorb heavy rains that could threaten the dam, and help prevent massive releases that cause downstream flooding.
Upstream/Downstream Differences of Opinion
Downstream residents love the policy. They saw their communities destroyed during Harvey when the SJRA started releasing 80,000 cubic feet per second. Many Lake Conroe residents who flooded during Harvey also love the policy.
But some Lake Conroe residents feel inconvenienced and persuaded the Lake Conroe Association to file a lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order to stop the lake lowering. A Montgomery County judge scheduled arguments in the lawsuit for April 16th, two weeks from now.
One resident who joined the suit claims the lower lake levels forced her to repair her bulkhead at a cost of $2000. And a bait shop owner claims he was driven out of business in 2018 when people couldn’t get their boats in the water.
But pictures taken during last year’s lowering show plenty of boaters having plenty of fun despite the lower level. Evaporation often takes the lake down partway to the target level anyway. So, the SJRA may only need to release inches rather than feet to reach its target level – especially in late summer.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/2/2021
1312 days after Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.