During Hurricane Harvey, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) released almost 80,000 cubic feet per second from the Lake Conroe Dam. This amounted to ONE-THIRD of all the water coming down the highly populated corridor between Humble and Kingwood. Massive damage resulted.
How Lake Lowering Policy Started
Almost 6,000 structures along the West Fork flooded. That number includes more than 1,100 between Lake Conroe and Porter. Forty-four percent of all the businesses in the Lake Houston Area Chamber experienced damage. The release inundated entire subdivisions. They included Forest Cove townhomes, Barrington, Kingwood Cove, Kingwood Greens, Kings Harbor, and Town Center. Large parts of other subdivisions flooded, too. Some more than two miles from the West Fork.
After touring the damage, Governor Gregg Abbott directed the SJRA to reduce flooding. The SJRA established a Flood Management Division. It also adopted a temporary policy of lowering Lake Conroe in the rainiest months of Spring and during the peak of hurricane season.
The extra capacity provides a buffer against flooding downstream.
What is the Policy? How Long Will It Last?
The policy is temporary while the City of Houston works to add more gates to Lake Houston. Lake Houston can release only 10,000 cubic feet per second while the gates on Lake Conroe can release 150,000, 15X more.
The policy has evolved over time. The current one represents a compromise between upstream and downstream residents. It will last through the end of 2023 and may be adjusted after that.
The current policy states:
- Normal conservation pool level for Lake Conroe is 201 feet mean sea level (msl). For the spring season, beginning April 1, the COH may call for the release of water from Lake Conroe to lower the lake level to 200.5 feet msl, or six inches below normal pool. If the lake is already at or below 200.5, then no water would be released. After June 1, the lake is allowed to return to its normal level of 201’ msl.
- For the fall season, beginning August 1, the COH may call for the release of water from Lake Conroe to lower the lake level to 200.5 feet msl, and after September 1, the COH can call for an additional release to reach 200.0 feet msl. This means the target is six inches below normal pool in August and one foot in September. If the lake is already at or below these targets, then no water would be released. After October 1, the lake is allowed to return to its normal level of 201’ msl.
- During either the spring or fall lowering, if a major storm event is predicted to impact our region, the COH may initiate an additional release to create more storage capacity by notifying SJRA in writing.
- All water released as part of this program comes from the COH’s 2/3 share of permitted water supply in Lake Conroe and must be requested by the COH. SJRA staff coordinate with COH staff on the details and timing of any releases. Coordination with COH involves ensuring that a Lake Conroe release considers releases from Lake Houston.
The links below provide information about how the policy came into effect.
- Specifics of how the policy works (when, how much, etc.)
- False claims released by the Lake Conroe Association and factual responses
- List of damages suffered in the Lake Houston Area during Harvey including number of people that died as a result
- Legal implications if SJRA stops seasonal lowering and downstream areas flood again.
- FAQs about Lake Conroe lowering
- Photo Essay showing Impact of Lake Lowering on Boating, Fishing, Commerce
- Evaporation loss lowers lake 4X more than policy would during average hurricane season
- Why Lake Conroe level remained low after Fall 2019
- How lake lowering would have helped Lake Conroe and Montgomery County residents who flooded in Harvey
- Instance where policy paid off: How lake lowering helped prevent West Fork flooding in May 2019 storms
- Harvey Remembered: 8 minute video by Mike Combat Willcox that shows the toll of the storm and Lake Conroe release on the Lake Houston Area.
For more information, search this site using the key words “lake lowering”. Or scroll through related posts on the right.
Letters Supporting Lake Lowering
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner – 2/19/2020 Letter proposing compromise
Houston City Council Member Dave Martin
Houston City Council Member Sally Alcorn
LHA Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative
Bob Leilich, Woodlands MUD President
Colleen Ulrich, Kingwood Barrington Resident
Ryan Long, 15-Year-Old Foster’s Mill Resident with Autism
Harvey: A 5-Year Flood-Mitigation Report Card
Case Finally Closed on Lake Conroe Association Lawsuit against City, SJRA
MoCo Judge Dismisses Lake Conroe Association Lawsuit Against SJRA With Prejudice
Lake Lowering to Start as Peak of Hurricane Season Nears
Engineers Testifying for LCA are Electrical and Chemical, Not Civil
LCA Claims “Seasonal Lake Lowering Policy Does Not Allow Lake Conroe to Refill Through Rainfall in Spring, Fall”
A Breather: Rain Mainly South of I-10 For Most of Day
Floodwaters Converging Downstream on Lake Houston
SJRA Began Spring Seasonal Release on April 1
Lake Conroe Association Applies for Temporary Restraining Order To Prohibit Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe
As of 7 a.m., Laura Predicted to Make Landfall at Sabine Pass as Cat 4 Hurricane
Lake Houston Level Now Being Lowered in Advance of Hurricane Laura
Remember Uncertainty With Marco, Laura; It’s Why We Need More, Bigger Gates on Lake Houston
Lake Conroe Association Complains to TCEQ about Seasonal Lake Lowering
Lake Conroe Lowered to Target Level for August; LCA May Be Gearing Up For Another Fight
SJRA Report on Spring Lowering of Lake Conroe
Lake Conroe Level Now Exceeds Average for April a Week Early
Additional Rain Puts Lake Conroe Within 1 inch of April Average
Lake Conroe Returns to Average Level for March
Exact Text of Lake Lowering Policy Adopted by SJRA
SJRA Adopts Modified Lake Lowering Program
Editorial: Endorsing Turner Compromise on Lake Lowering, Adding One Thing
Mayor Turner Proposes New Compromise on Lowering Lake Conroe
Reminder: Last SJRA Board Meeting Before Vote on Whether to Continue Lowering Lake Conroe Seasonally
Lake Conroe at 199 Feet: Photos Show Little Impact on Boating, Fishing, Commerce
David Seitzinger Letter to SJRA Focuses on Lake Levels and Drought
By Itself, Lake Conroe Discharge During Harvey Among Top Ten West Fork Floods of All Time
Flooded 15-Year-Old With Autism Fights for Lowering Lake Conroe
Lake Conroe Swamps Lake Houston Again
Janet Wilson’s Losses and Long Road Back from Hurricane Harvey Make Case for Lowering Lake Conroe
Childhood Terror From Harvey: Ulrich Family’s Experience and Letter to SJRA Board
Overview: Background Information on Lake Lowering Issue
Lake Lowering and Diffusion of Responsibility
More People, Groups Line Up For, Against Lowering of Lake Conroe
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Supports Continuing to Lower Lake Conroe Seasonally to Help Mitigate Flooding
Legal Aspect of Lake Lowering That Lake Conroe Association Won’t Tell Officials About
MoCo Commissioners to Consider Resolution Opposing Lowering of Lake Conroe; Interferes with Recreation
Lake Conroe Association Misleads Area’s Own State Representative and Senator
Billboard on FM105 Implies Lake Conroe Is Threatened and Near Death
SJRA Board Will Hold Two Special Meetings to Discuss Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe
YouTube Video Shows Grand Harbor Boating Problems on Lake Conroe Predate SJRA Lowering Policy
SJRA Board Meeting Packed by “Stop the Drop” Protesters
Plans For Next Phase of Dredging Announced
Lake Conroe Lowering Benefits MoCo Residents, Too; More Than 1100 Flooded on West Fork During Harvey
FAQs About Lowering Lake Conroe to Reduce Downstream Flood Risk
Lake Conroe Association Fighting Seasonal Lowering in Advance of SJRA Vote to Reconsider Policy
Aerial Photos of Lake Houston Dam Dramatize Need for More Gates
Barrington Is BACK and BETTER!
SJRA Update, Upcoming Sunset Review and Enabling Legislation
Army Corps Moving Forward with Partial Mouth Bar Dredging to Reduce Flood Risk
One Less Thing to Worry About in Latest Storm: How Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe Helped
SRJA Begins Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe to Provide Buffer Against Flooding
Night of the Intruder: More Reader Submissions
SJRA Board Votes to Maintain Lake-Lowering Policy for Another Year
The Night that 11,000 Lake Houston Area People Became Homeless
Video of Barrington Evacuation During Harvey Makes Case for Lowering Lake Conroe, Nixing High-Rise Development
SJRA to Reconsider Lowering of Lake Conroe This Thursday Morning
West Fork Forecast to Flood up to 54 Feet
The Great Escape: Rebecca Johansen’s Hurricane Harvey Experience
Lake Conroe Seasonal Lowering Reaches Target Level at Peak of Hurricane Season
Seasonal Lowering of Lake Conroe Begins August 1
Lowering Lake Conroe Temporarily Could Be Blessing in Disguise for Lakefront Property Owners
TCEQ Approves SJRA and City Plan to Temporarily Lower Lake Conroe
Damage Map: Neighborhoods in Lake Houston Area Hardest Hit by Harvey
Case for Lowering Lake Conroe up to Two Feet During Peak of Hurricane Season
Pros and Cons of Two Alternative Strategies to Lower Lake Conroe
Lowering Lake Conroe: How much is enough?
Results of May SJRA Board Meeting and Decision to Temporarily Lower the Level of Lake Conroe
Proposal to Temporarily Lower Lake Conroe Stirs Fight with Lake Conroe Association Over Likely 4.8 Inches
Amy Slaughter’s Hurricane Harvey Experience
Lake Conroe Association Announces It Will Fight Temporary 2-Foot Lowering of Lake During Hurricane Season
Want Lake Conroe Lowered? Stay Involved!
Jennifer Trimble’s Hurricane Harvey Experience