Luce Bayou InterBasin Transfer Canal

Why Lake Houston Is So Full in a Drought

I flew over Lake Houston this morning in a helicopter. I expected to see the barren lake bed in places like you could during the 2011 drought. However, much to my surprise, the lake was virtually full.

Coastal Water Authority Shows Lake Down Only 6 Inches

The Coastal Water Authority, which manages the lake for the City of Houston, shows Lake Houston is only down a half foot.

Coastal Water Authority dashboard as of 8/12/23 at 6PM

Water was lapping at the edge of the the spillway.

Lake Houston Dam spillway. Photo take 8/12/23 at approximately 10am.

SJRA Shows Lake Conroe Down About 15 Inches

Lake Conroe is down about 15 inches from its normal conservation pool (the target level). And it hasn’t released any water downstream toward Lake Houston in months. The SJRA’s dashboard shows

SJRA Dashboard on 8/12/23 at 6PM.

Luce Bayou InterBasin Transfer Canal Bringing the Water

So what’s keeping Lake Houston full? What is offsetting drought and evaporation?

A quick check of the gages on the Harris County flood warning system shows areas far upstream have gotten small amounts of rain. But the most water we saw moving all day was coming from the Trinity River via the Luce Bayou InterBasin transfer project.

Luce Bayou Inter-Basin transfer canal bringing water to Lake Houston from the Trinity River on 8/12/23 at 9 am.

Gages upstream from Lake Livingston, which captures water coming down the Trinity River from Dallas/Fort Worth, recorded approximately 11 inches of rain in June, July and August (to date).

Lake Conroe got enough rain to offset some evaporation but not enough to supply Montgomery and Harris Counties.

It’s nice to have backups for Lake Houston in a drought, especially widely scattered backups that can capture rain moving through different parts of the region.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/12/23

2174 Days since Hurricane Harvey