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More People, Groups Line Up For, Against Lowering of Lake Conroe

Everyone from County Commissioners to people on the street are picking up sides.

MoCo Commissioners Oppose Lowering in Split Vote

In a 3-2 vote this morning, Montgomery County Commissioners approved a resolution to OPPOSE the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe. Judge Keough, Commissioner Meador and Commissioner Noack voted FOR the resolution. Commissioners Riley and Metts voted against.

Despite the news from Montgomery County, other local leaders released letters SUPPORTING the continuation of the policy.

Houston At-Large Council Member Sallie Alcorn Supports Lowering

Sallie Alcorn, Houston City Council Member At-Large, Position 5, sent the SJRA a letter supporting the continuation of the lake lowering policy. Ms. Alcorn, a new member of City Council, used to work with Chief Recovery Officer Stephen Costello and saw first hand how the lake lowering strategy helped prevent flooding in May of last year. See the full text of her letter below.

Sallie Alcorn Letter supporting lake lowering.

Woodlands Leader Robert Leilich Supports Lowering

Robert Leilich, president of Municipal Utility District #1 in the Woodlands, wrote a poignant letter to the SJRA board expressing his own personal experience and opinions.

January 14, 2020

Dear SJRA Board Members,

I witnessed first-hand the devastation wreaked by the necessity to open Lake Conroe’s Tainter Gates during Hurricane Harvey. I worked in a home of a disabled veteran in River Plantation that had recently recovered from the Memorial Day Flood. Water in this home went from a few inches up to ten feet in a matter of a few hours after the gates were opened. I spent many hours pulling down wallboard from the ceiling and walls after it ruined everything. Over 400 homes were flooded in River Plantation, alone, most of which would not have flooded if it were possible to not open the gates. 

Taking steps to utilize the capability of Lake Conroe to contain more floodwaters beyond its current limited capabilities is a positive step to mitigate or prevent future flooding by waters flowing from Lake Conroe. This common-sense flood prevention capability must take precedence over minor inconveniences to a few homeowners and businesses, who greatly exaggerate claims of harm and loss. After all, the primary purpose to building the lake in the first place was never to serve those interests. SJRA has no obligation to give priority to these interests over the welfare of residents downstream of the dam.

In 1917, an amendment to the Texas constitution, referred to as the “Conservation Amendment,” authorized the Legislature “to create governmental entities with the authority to develop large-scale, regional projects, such as dams, reservoirs, and delivery systems, for the purpose of conserving and developing the state’s water resources, including the control, storing, preservation, and distribution of its storm and flood waters, the water of its rivers and streams, for irrigation, power, and all other useful purposes…” (from SJRA ‘s 75th Anniversary brochure, page 5).

In 1937, the San Jacinto River Conservation and Reclamation District (now SJRA) was formed “to develop, conserve, and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin.” Enabling legislation also gave the Authority rights “to impound flood waters.” It is entirely appropriate and prudent that the SJRA exercise this authority.

The present policy to temporarily drop lake levels one-foot in the spring and two-feet in August and September is a fair compromise between flood prevention and recreation.

Since Governor Abbott directed the SJRA on March 15, 2018, to implement immediate and long-term solutions to protect lives and property of Texans living in the watershed, the SJRA Board has taken positive action. It is my hope that the Board will continue to follow the Governor’s directives when the board once again considers the temporary and seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe, continuing the present policy until (and if) more permanent flood control measures are implemented.

The ability of Lake Conroe to mitigate potential flooding was demonstrated during the May 10, 2019, rain event. (SJRA data from the May 2019 floods show that had no releases occurred prior to the event, Lake Conroe would have been forced to release at a higher CFS during the event.) Lowering Lake Conroe protected numerous lives, homes and businesses.

Access to lake recreation should never be at the expense of endangering lives downstream, especially considering the Charter of the SJRA states that its express purpose was for responsible water management. Further, if the Board chooses to not continue lowering Lake Conroe, it would be out of compliance with Governor Abbott’s mandate. 

The San Jacinto River Authority has a legal and moral responsibility to many more people than just those who live and work around Lake Conroe. It is my hope and expectation that the SJRA Board will continue the present policy that is proving to protect lives and property against those who have a sense of entitlement that supersedes public interests.

I respectfully request that you vote in favor of the temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe on February 20, 2020.

Very truly yours,
(Signed)
Robert H. Leilich
President, MUD #1


Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative Supports Lowering

The Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative supports the Lake Houston Chamber to mobilize people throughout the region. The Grassroots organization sent the following note to its members on Monday afternoon.

Dear ______________:

On Tuesday, Jan 7th, the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce sent an email highlighting the various ways you can support the SJRA’s temporary seasonal Lake Lowering program for 2020.

We encourage everyone to be involved in any way you can. So, if you are not able to attend the SJRA Public Board meeting on Tuesday January 21st meeting at 6:00 pm at the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center, we encourage you to send an email to the SJRA board members sharing your support of this temporary lake lowering program. The Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce has created a very easy way to send an email via the RecoverLakeHouston.com website. It only takes a few seconds to complete their form. We highly recommend using this method to send an email.

In the Lake Houston Long Term Recovery Task Force Meeting this morning, the Lake Houston Area Chamber reported as of this morning, 689 emails had been sent via RecoverLakeHouston.com. While that is a good start, we are confident that with your help we can exceed 2000 emails to show SJRA that the Lake Houston area appreciates their support in providing temporary solutions to reduce the flood risk. So please share in your social media feeds and on Nextdoor to help spread the word. If it is easier to share directly from the Lake Houston Area Chambers Facebook post, the link is https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158743067093357&substory_index=0&id=139473188356

It is important for EVERYONE to be involved as the Lake Conroe Association which is requesting SJRA to “Stop The Drop” is growing. They have obtained support from State Representative Will Metcalf and State Senator Robert Nichols. Bob Rehak with ReduceFlooding.com shared a recent blog post that includes the letters.

Again thank for being involved and please help spread the word.

Sincerely,

Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative


Lake Houston Chamber Supports Lowering

The Lake Houston Chamber sent this letter to members.

January 7, 2020

I am calling on you, once again, to help us protect the Lake Houston Area from future flooding. We are launching a “Lives Over Levels” email campaign to the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board of Directors requesting their approval of temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe in 2020. The SJRA Board meets on January 21 to hear comments and again on February 20 to call the vote.

As you may recall, our area fought hard to initiate a seasonal lake lowering program during the wettest months of our year and in the height of hurricane season. The lake lowering program calls for Lake Conroe to be lowered 1 ft. below Lake Conroe’s normal pool elevation during the months of April and May and by 2 ft. below normal pool elevation in the months of August and September. The seasonal lowering program must be approved by the SJRA Board each February.

An organized group of homeowners on Lake Conroe has recently launched a campaign to the SJRA Board and a petition to Governor Abbott to stop the temporary and seasonal lowering program. They contend the temporary, seasonal lake lowering program impedes lakefront residents’ ability to get their boats from their slips during months with lower lake levels. They also claim that the lake lowering program has no scientific basis of flood protection and is thus merely offers a “placebo effect” for Lake Houstonians.

However, as residents and business professionals in Lake Houston, we know the benefits the seasonal and temporary lowering of Lake Conroe has had on our area and we also have data which proves seasonal lowering mitigated flooding.

HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP:
SEND an email to the SJRA Board Members through our RecoverLakeHouston.com site.

SHARE the RecoverLakeHouston.com site with your employees, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and customers so they can also participate in the campaign. Forward this email and engage their participation.

SPREAD the campaign on social media using #LivesOverLevels #SJRA #RecoverLakeHouston. To make it easy, simply share posts from our Lake Houston Area Chamber social media pages.
SJRA On Twitter: @SJRA_1937
SJRA On Facebook: @SanJacintoRiverAuthority
SJRA on Instagram: @sanjacintoriverauthoritysjra

SHOW UP to the SJRA Board Meetings at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, January 21 and Tuesday, February 20 at the Lone Star Convention and Expo Center located at 9055 Airport Road, Conroe, Texas 77303. The opposition group in Lake Conroe will have several hundred people attend.

The future of the Lake Houston Area depends largely on our community rallying together, fighting for action to prevent flooding.

Join me in support of this campaign,

Jenna Armstrong, IOM
President & CEO
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce



Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/14/2020

868 Days after Hurricane Harvey