Tag Archive for: diffusion of responsibility

Lake Lowering and Diffusion of Responsibility

Social psychologists call it “diffusion of responsibility.”  People tend to shun responsibility for action or inaction when others are present. Individuals assume that others will take action or have already done so. We saw an example that yesterday when exactly one person from Kingwood protested a resolution in MoCo Commissioners Court to stop lowering Lake Conroe seasonally. The motion then passed 3 to 2.

One Individual Rarely Swings Political Tides

Daryl Palmer made a valiant effort to sway the MoCo commissioners, but in a political context, one person rarely has enough clout.

To see Daryl’s testimony click on item 7 at this link. To see the “debate” over the resolution, click on item 8.

The lake lowering strategy helps mitigate flooding. It is temporary while other mitigation measures are implemented. Those include dredging the West Fork mouth bar and adding more floodgates to Lake Houston. Both will help evacuate water faster during floods.

MoCo commissioners don’t make the decision to continue the policy. Their resolution shows only symbolic support for Lake Conroe residents. The SJRA board will make the final decision. So Daryl Palmer’s valiant solo appearance won’t necessarily end this story. But if “diffusion of responsibility” similarly affects turnout at the next SJRA board meeting, I fear that will send a message to the SJRA board. That message: downstream residents no longer care.

Ten Two Letter Words That Make All the Difference in the World

Somebody told me once about ten two-letter words that make all the difference in the world.

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

I’ve tried to live my life by those words since then. Unfortunately, yesterday, I had a meeting conflict and could not attend the MoCo commissioner’s meeting.

When people believe success requires their involvement, most get involved. If you care about your community and neighbors who flooded, I challenge each of you to come to the next SJRA board meeting. Tell why lowering Lake Conroe is important to you personally.

Photo courtesy of Laura Vowinkle. Shows Kingwood Town Center Apartments during Harvey. That’s the top of an SUV in the foreground. These apartments are more than a mile north of the West Fork.
US59 During Harvey after the Lake Conroe release. Looking south from Sorters-McClellan overpass toward the Deerbrook Mall and Humble commercial district. Photo courtesy of Melinda Ray.
During the Lake Conroe release, Janet Wilson lost her home, two cars, 48 years worth of family heirlooms, pictures, books, keepsakes and furniture. She says the greatest damage though was the two years it took to restore family’s life; time that could have been spent with her aging and now deceased parents.
Another photo of Janet Wilson’s life on the curb.

Lowering Lake Conroe seasonally until other mitigation measures are complete is insurance. You don’t use insurance every year. But who would own a home or drive a car without it. The costs could be catastrophic.

  • Don’t think the SJRA board will automatically do the right thing.
  • Don’t rely on our political representatives to carry the day. They face opposition from representatives on the other side of this question.
  • Don’t assume that your voice won’t make a difference.
  • Don’t believe that because you didn’t flood, your home’s value was not affected.
  • Don’t pretend flooding could not happen again.

Four 100-year or greater storms hit this area in the last five years.

So act on those ten two-letter words. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Make Your Voice Heard


  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020
  • 6pm at Lone Star Convention and Expo Center
  • 9055 Airport Road, Conroe, Texas 77303.
  • Doors open at 5pm. 
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020
  • 6pm at Lone Star Convention and Expo Center
  • 9055 Airport Road, Conroe, Texas 77303
  • Doors open at 5pm.

Those wishing to address the board or register a comment at a special meeting may fill out a Comment Registration Form https://www.sjra.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Comment-Registration-Form_01062020.pdf. Comment Registration Forms may be submitted at the special meeting. The form may not be mailed, emailed, or dropped off prior to the meeting date.

The SJRA Board of Directors also welcomes input regarding the seasonal lake lowering strategy via mail or email. To contact the Board please visit: https://www.sjra.net/about/board/. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the email form. Or email floodmanagementdivision@sjra.net.

The Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce has automated email that makes the process easy. But original emails that tell your particular story likely will carry far more weight.

Tomorrow, I will add a special page to this web site. It will contain all the information you need to compose your own letter or prepare spoken comments. Please continue to send in your photos of Harvey via the Submissions page on this web site so that we can dramatize the difference between real and perceived damages. In the meantime…

Don’t let diffusion of responsibility victimize you a second time.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/15/2020

869 Days since Hurricane Harvey