Tag Archive for: LCA

Case Finally Closed on Lake Conroe Association Lawsuit against City, SJRA

In April, 2021, a Montgomery County District Court dismissed the Lake Conroe Association’s lawsuit against the City of Houston for its Lake Lowering Policy. In August 2021, the court dismissed the same case against the SJRA with prejudice. The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) and several Lake Conroe residents appealed the decisions.

Then on April 20, 2022, LCA and the other appellants asked that the Court dismiss their appeal. Neither the City, nor SJRA, opposed the motion. Three judges of the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Beaumont then unanimously dismissed the appeal. Case closed.

“Takings” Claim Disputed

Lake Conroe Association contended that the SJRA’s lake lowering policy amounted to a “taking” of residents’ property.

The City of Houston and SJRA contended that the water at issue did not belong to lakefront homeowners. It belonged to the State of Texas and the City. Therefore, the Lake Conroe Association had no basis for a “takings” claim.

Sources close to the process said that before the matter was heard on appeal, the LCA realized it would never win. So its leaders decided to drop the case and avoid more legal fees.

Clearing the Way for Lake-Lowering Policy to Remain in Effect

This clears the way for the SJRA’s seasonal lake lowering policy to remain in effect during construction of additional floodgates on the Lake Houston Dam. The policy helps ensure that extra “storage capacity” (parking space for water) remains in Lake Conroe during the rainiest months in spring and the peak of hurricane season.

This reduces chances of another devastating release that floods downstream residents during a major storm, such as Hurricane Harvey. The SJRA released 79,000 cubic feet per second during Harvey, one third of all the water coming down the West Fork between Humble and Kingwood.

However, as time went by, Lake Conroe residents became upset with the policy. That led to a contentious confrontation between upstream and downstream residents, as well as the lawsuit.

2022 Version of Lake-Lowering Policy is a Compromise

Over time, the SJRA has reduced the amount of lowering in its policy. Currently, the spring lowering is one-half foot below 201 during April and May, the level of the conservation pool in the lake. Originally, it was one full foot below 201. Most people call that the “normal” level. However, the mean level of Lake Conroe is below that about two-thirds of the time. (See last table below.)

Current Lake Conroe Level

Evaporation and low rainfall currently have Lake Conroe at 200.8, or about 3 inches above the new seasonal target level and 3 inches below the conservation pool.

Currently Lake Conroe’s level is at 200.8 feet and the City of Houston (COH) has not called to lower the lake further.

A close reading of the policy reveals that for the lake lowering to begin, the City of Houston must call for the water.

Below-Average Rainfall Has Delayed Need for Spring Release

However, below-average rainfall for the last two months has delayed the need for a spring release from Lake Conroe this year. Much of the state is now in drought.

Montgomery and northern Harris Counties are currently rated as “abnormally dry.” Southern Harris, Fort Bend and Waller Counties all have “moderate drought.”

Jace Houston, general manager of the SJRA, said, “We haven’t had a big rain in a long time and there’s no significant rain in the foreseeable future. The feeling is that evaporation will soon take the lake down to the target level. The City of Houston must initiate the lowering. If we get a lot of rain, we’ll start releasing again.”

Time for Healing

In addition to reducing the spring lake lowering, the 2022 policy lowers Lake Conroe to 200.5 in August and 200 in September – both a half foot higher than the original policy.

Hopefully, this compromise will help upstream and downstream residents live together now that the lawsuit has been dismissed. It’s time for some healing.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/22/2022

1697 Days since Hurricane Harvey

MoCo Judge Dismisses Lake Conroe Association Lawsuit Against SJRA With Prejudice

Judge Michael Mayes of the 284th Judicial District Court in Montgomery County filed an order today dismissing the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) lawsuit against the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA). But the most significant part of the dismissal was the way he did it.


Meaning of “With Prejudice” and “Want of Jurisdiction”

“With prejudice” means that the plaintiff cannot refile charges in another court. Basically, the court is saying that it found the case meritless. One lawyer told me, “It’s like saying, ‘Don’t waste the court’s time anymore.'”

The massive floodgates on Lake Conroe (above) have 15X the release capacity of Lake Houston’s. The seasonal lake lowering program was conceived in part as a way to give Lake Houston more time to shed water in advance of major storms.

Re: Plea to the Jurisdiction, according to the website Houston Courts and Cases, “In Texas…A plea to the jurisdiction can challenge either the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s pleadings or the existence of jurisdictional facts.”

In April 2021, the Judge dismissed the case against the City of Houston for want of jurisdiction, but the case against the SJRA remained active until today.

The ruling means that the SJRA’s Seasonal Lake Lowering Plan may remain in effect.

Purpose of Lake Lowering Plan

The Seasonal Lake-Lowering Plan was conceived shortly after Harvey as a way to provide an extra measure of flood protection for the Lake Houston Area while it implemented other flood-mitigation measures such as dredging and additional gates for the Lake Houston spillway. By creating extra storage capacity within Lake Conroe during the wettest months of the year, the SJRA hoped to reduce the risk associated with another massive release like the 79,000 cubic feet per second during Harvey. By itself, that was the ninth largest flood in West Fork history.

2800 Pages of Legal Briefs Come to a 102-Word End

The Lake Conroe Association pulled out the stops for this lawsuit. It filed approximately 2800 pages of legal briefs in four months, ran out of money, and started begging with residents to donate more so it could continue the fight. Today’s ruling will put an end to that.

Reality repeatedly contradicted the LCA’s factual claims. LCA claimed:

  • Home values around Lake Conroe would plummet because of the plan. They increased.
  • The school district would run out of money. It didn’t.
  • Nature would not be able to recharge the lake after a lowering. It did. Repeatedly.
  • Lake Conroe was not conceived as a flood-control lake. Flood control is a key element of SJRA’s charter.
  • The lowering would not help protect people in the Lake Houston Area. It did.
  • The City of Houston committed fraud … by calling for the release of its own water.

In contrast to (or maybe because of) the 2800 pages of legal briefs, today’s court order was mercifully brief – 102 words.

“On this 30th day of August, 2021, came on before the Court San Jacinto River Authority’s Plea to the Jurisdiction, and after considering same, all Answers, Responses, Replies, pleadings, stipulations, evidence, affidavits and attachments filed by the parties, all statutory and caselaw authorities, and all arguments relating thereto, the Court was of the opinion that the following Order should be entered; it is therefore ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that San Jacinto River Authority’s Plea to the Jurisdiction be, and it is hereby, GRANTED AND SUSTAINED, and that the above Cause be, and it is hereby, DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION.”

Now a Meaningful Dialog Can Begin

I’m sure this must come as a bitter blow for some residents of Lake Conroe who supported the long court battle. But perhaps some good will come from the clarity that now exists.

Hopefully, this will open the door to reasonable people who wish to craft a long-term joint management plan for both Lake Conroe and Lake Houston. The people of this region are inextricably bound together by the need to balance water and flood control. Perhaps now we can start a meaningful dialog that addresses both.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/30/2021

1162 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Lake Lowering to Start as Peak of Hurricane Season Nears

According to its lake lowering policy adopted last year, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) should start to drop the level of Lake Conroe this weekend.

Text of Lake-Lowering Policy

The lake-lowering policy states:

“Beginning August 1, release only an amount of water from Lake Conroe to create a one foot capacity to catch rainfall and storm runoff (from 201’ msl to 200’ msl). After September 1, increase capacity an additional six inches (from 200’ msl to 199.5’ msl). If a named storm is predicted to impact our region, the COH may initiate an additional release of six inches (to 199’ msl) by notifying SJRA in writing of their call for release. Recapture beginning October 1.”

As of 5PM Friday, 7/30/21, Lake Conroe stood at 200.87 feet. The only release from the lake was the water feeding the SJRA water treatment plant to supply drinking water to area customers (GRP Diversion).

Before the SJRA can lower the lake, however, the City of Houston (COH) must call for the lowering to start. And according to a spokesman in Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office, the City has called for the release to start.

The City owns two thirds of the water in the Lake and the release will come out of the City’s portion. When the numbers in the box labeled “COH diversion” on the SJRA’s dashboard increase, you’ll know the seasonal release has started.

Lake Conroe Association Still Fighting

In the past, releases have been hotly debated. The Lake Conroe Association has sued the City and SJRA in Montgomery County District Court. The litigants have filed 80 documents totaling more than 2800 pages in the last 121 days. That’s more than 23 pages per day! Some of the plaintiff’s arguments border on ridiculous in my opinion.

  • LCA claimed the tax base and property values in Montgomery County would collapse because of the lake lowering. But they’ve gone up.
  • LCA also claimed that Lake Conroe could not refill itself in the summer months. But it has.
  • Finally, LCA alleges fraud when the City calls for the release of its own property.

Isn’t that kind of like a neighbor of a bank alleging fraud when a depositor makes a withdrawal?

To read all the documents yourself, go to the Montgomery County District Clerk’s website.

Judge Mike Mays set a hearing date for Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at 2PM.

Approaching Peak of Hurricane Season

So how is this hurricane season going so far?

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts no tropical activity anywhere in the Atlantic basin for the next five days. That includes the Gulf of Mexico.

However, we’ve already had five named storms this year. And NHC observes…

“In terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which measures the strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, activity in the basin so far in 2021 is well above average at more than twice the climatological value.”

National Hurricane Center

If history is a guide, the four charts below from the NHC Climatology Page hint at what we can likely expect in the coming months.

We’re about to enter the month where the number of named storms starts to climb most rapidly. Remember, Harvey was an August storm. Source: NHC.

The fact that we only had one named storm in July (Elsa) is not unusual; it’s average. But keep in mind that Elsa was the earliest named “E” storm on record.

This chart shows the distribution of storms throughout the season. The peak happens from mid-August to late October.
Galveston, Harris, Brazoria, and Chambers Counties get the most hurricane strikes in Texas.
Hurricane Strikes in Continental US by State and By Year since 1950

All in all, the Atlantic this time of year is like a casino. You have to play the odds. And that’s what the temporary seasonal lake lowering policy is designed to do – reduce the risk of huge property losses by creating extra capacity in Lake Conroe to help offset heavy rainfall and the need for large releases.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/30/21

1431 Days since 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.

Engineers Testifying for LCA are Electrical and Chemical, Not Civil

Yesterday’s post cited the testimony of two “licensed professional engineers” in the State of Texas who claimed that Lake Conroe could not refill from rainfall in the Spring or Fall after being lowered one foot to provide an extra margin of safety, which helps prevent flooding homes on both sides of the dam. However, the lake did refill…and then somewithin two days after the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) filed their affidavits in its lawsuit to prevent the seasonal lowering.

Deeper investigation reveals that neither engineer is a civil engineer. One is an electrical engineer and the other a chemical engineer.

From https://pels.texas.gov/roster/pesearch.html

“The Engineer Shall Not…”

Here’s why it is important. Note Paragraphs A and C below.

From Page 84 of PDF at https://pels.texas.gov/downloads/lawrules.pdf

Paragraph A states that engineers shall practice only in their areas of competence.

Paragraph C states, “The engineer shall not express an engineering opinion in deposition before a court … which is contrary to generally accepted scientific and engineering principles without fully disclosing the basis and rationale for such an opinion.”

There was no such disclosure in their affidavits.

In fairness, the engineers also testified as residents and they had more concerns than flooding.

However, both:

  • Cited their professional credentials at the start of their affidavits – without disclosing their areas of expertise.
  • Drew the same conclusion about the inability of the lake to refill through rainfall – without stating the basis of their conclusions.

Mr. Elliott has retired and his license is inactive. Mr. Waitts’ license is still active.


Only two days after LCA filed the engineers’ affidavits, rainfall raised the lake level two feet above normal, and threatened homes and businesses. SJRA had to release water at almost 10,000 CFS to avoid flooding them.

Seasonal Release from Lake Conroe, 529 cfs from one tainter gate open six inches.
SJRA Seasonal Release on 4/15/2020. One tainter gate open six inches released a slow, steady stream of 529 cfs.

Without the seasonal lake lowering policy, someone on either side of the dam would likely have flooded. Dam operators would have been forced to flip a coin to see who. But the seasonal lowering – about which the chemical and electrical engineers complained – helped protect everyone. No one, to my knowledge, flooded on either side of the dam due to river flooding.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/23/2021

1363 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.

LCA Claims “Seasonal Lake Lowering Policy Does Not Allow Lake Conroe to Refill Through Rainfall in Spring, Fall”

Never says never. Especially in a lawsuit. It didn’t take long to disprove that claim! Two days after LCA filed the claim on April 28th, the SJRA had to open its gates to keep Lake Conroe homes and businesses from flooding. And they are still releasing water…three weeks later.

SJRA Dashboard as of 6pm Friday night, 5/21/2021. Normal level is 201. Despite near constant releases this month, the lake’s level has remained above average.

This afternoon, I read the third supplement to the petition by the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) in its lawsuit against the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) and nearly busted a gut laughing. After a week where we received more than half the rain for the year so far, I needed the comic relief. And got it.

Two licensed professional engineers – with more than 80 years of experience between them – filed affidavits. They claim that the SJRA’s seasonal lake lowering policy “does not allow Lake Conroe to refill through rainfall in the Spring and Fall.” Their claim is repeated over and over again in affidavits by others.

Lake Conroe Association’s Third Supplement to its Original Petition

SJRA Forced to Go Beyond Seasonal Lowering to Avoid Flooding

Twice this month, the SJRA has had to release water from Lake Conroe above and beyond the seasonal lowering policy to prevent flooding. After the May Day event, they released almost 10,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) for several days to keep the homes and businesses around Lake Conroe from flooding.

The boats are in slips, but the docks are underwater. Near Monty’s Lighthouse and Fajita Jacks on Lake Conroe on 5/1/2021, when the water level exceeded 203 feet halfway through the Spring seasonal lowering.

The rains this week have been more spread out, but the SJRA still had to release almost 3,000 CFS most days to reduce flood risk around Lake Conroe.

Engineers rarely deal in absolutes. They deal in extremes and qualify almost everything they say. But these intrepid professionals stepped over the edge on the far side of reality. Mother Nature always gets the last word.

One of Many Exaggerated Claims

The LCA lawsuit seeks to stop the SJRA’s seasonal lake lowering policy. The “refill” claim is just one of many exaggerated claims that LCA has made.

This lawsuit overflows with self-destructive claims and internal contradictions.

Say That Again!

The latest filing claims that the Lake Conroe Association has the authority to speak for all of its members because LCA feels it proved actual or imminent damages to at least one of its members. In logic, they call that “the fallacy of generalization.” I know at least one influential member of LCA who disagrees vehemently with the lawsuit. So which of those two individuals should we listen to?

LCA also asserts that the Association’s rights are “in every practical sense identical” with “its members.” Its interests, however, may not be.

Some may not find flooding enjoyable.

In its original petition, LCA claimed that its purpose was “over-seeing, directing, initiating, and promulgating programs that directly affect the control, use, and enjoyment of Lake Conroe…” Had it not been for the seasonal lake lowering policy, many homes and businesses upstream or down would likely have flooded after the May Day rains.

In the same sentence about enjoyment, LCA also claims that Lake Conroe is operated exclusively for the benefit of the citizens of Montgomery County, Texas.

Did they really mean to say that Lake Conroe is operated exclusively for MoCo residents when the City of Houston owns two thirds of the water in it?

At one point, the lawsuit claims the sole purpose of Lake Conroe is to supply drinking water. But most of LCA’s complaints refer to lost recreational opportunities.

The second supporting document LCA filed sought relief for irreparable damages but did not specify what those were. Previously LCA members have complained about:

Could Dredging Costs Be The Real Issue?

But LCA’s latest filing reveals what could be the real issue here: dredging. Reportedly, the former president of the LCA had shallow water next to some lakefront property he was trying to sell. But with the water lowered, shallowness made the property less marketable.

Shallow water especially impacts residents at the north end (headwaters) of the lake.

Some LCA affidavits claim that access channels to the lake have been cut off by siltation. This latest filing references dredging in numerous places.

Wildwood Shores claims the estimated cost to dredge area canals exceeds one million dollars. They have hired an engineering company to set up a multi-year dredging plan that would spread out the costs. But they worry that the costs may still not be affordable. Dredging companies have explained the costs of dewatering the dredged materials; hauling them out of the floodplain; and the Army Corps’ permitting process.

Residents from Wildwood Shores, an area without fire hydrants, also claim that the Sam Houston National Forest could burn down if a house fire gets out of control and the local fire department can’t find a way to draw water from the lake.

I wonder if they’ve compared the cost of dredging to putting in a water well and tank from which tanker trucks can refill. I googled “cost of water tanks” and quickly found one that holds 90,000 gallons for $35,000. That’s a lot less than a million dollars for dredging. And the capacity would be enough to fill up at least 30 of the tanker trucks they reference in the lawsuit. The engineer who filed that affidavit didn’t explore that option. Perhaps because he had something else in mind…like boating, for instance.

Let’s Focus on the Real Issues and Work Together

I’m not trying to minimize the:

  • Loss of recreational opportunities
  • Inconvenience of silt
  • Expense of dredging.

We in the Lake Houston Area have been grappling with those same issues…on top of the flooding that silt dams contribute to. They are all real.

But making claims that are false at face value; inventing one doomsday scenario after another; and ignoring reasonable, cost-effective alternatives only undermine your own credibility.

Keeping water high is a temporary solution at best. Eventually, silt will pop up all around Lake Conroe. Especially after heavy rains.

Until you start enforcing regulations that reduce the effects of egregious development (including sedimentation) and form a Flood Control District to help dredge, this problem will dog you.

Realize that we’re all in this together – upstream and down. Let’s focus on ways to mitigate our mutual problems, not fight each other for a temporary advantage.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/22/2021

1362 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.

MoCo Judge Dismisses Lake Conroe Association Suit to Block Seasonal Lake Lowering

It has been a busy ten days at the Montgomery County Courthouse. On March 31, the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) filed a lawsuit to block the seasonal lowering of the lake. But a hearing was not set until April 19. Meanwhile, the SJRA and City of Houston initiated a release of 450 cubic feet per second on April 1. That prompted the LCA to request an immediate order to stop the release on April 6. And that may have backfired on the Association. It forced the judge to look at the case sooner. And today, the judge dismissed the entire suit with respect to the City of Houston for lack of jurisdiction. Co-defendant SJRA has yet to file its response in the case, so the judge could not rule on that.

Dismissed for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

In its initial response to the LCA suit, the City argued what lawyers call a “plea to the jurisdiction.” The City claimed that LCA lawyers relied on outdated case law, that the City enjoyed governmental immunity, and that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The arguments re: immunity are complicated and technical. Briefly, Texas law gives governmental entities broad immunity. Plaintiffs must challenge the validity of a statute under which a government took action to challenge the government’s action. But, says the City, the seasonal lake lowering policy is not a statute or ordinance; it is simply a policy. Thus, “Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment action is barred by governmental immunity.”

More Hail Mary’s

To stop the seasonal release once it started, Plaintiffs then filed their first supplement to the Application for a temporary restraining order. They also filed a Supplement to their Original Petition. And a second supplement. The filings claimed that the release of 450 CFS was:

  • Causing irreparable harm
  • A public nuisance
  • A “taking” of their property
  • An unreasonable loss of water
  • Diminishing their enjoyment of the lake

The City of Houston answered these allegations one by one in a seven-page brief filed on 4/7/2021. I’ll dispense with the legal arguments; you can read them for yourself. They discuss whether the allegations have merit and meet the legal definitions involved.

Even without a law degree, it appears on the surface that the only claim with validity is the enjoyment claim. But balanced against the City’s property rights (in the water), plus the potential flood-reduction and property-protection benefits, it pales.

Judge’s Ruling

Suffice it to say, that around 9 a.m. today, the judge agreed with the City of Houston’s Plea to the Jurisdiction. “The Court having considered the Plea and the response, if any, is of the opinion that it should in all things be SUSTAINED.”

“IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED that City of Houston’s Plea to the Jurisdiction is SUSTAINED and that Plaintiffs’ claims are DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction.

Judge in LCA Case

Altogether, plaintiff’s filed 86 pages of legal briefs so far. I’m glad I’m not a Lake Conroe homeowner paying the bill for that!

Irreparable Harm? Really?

Some LCA claims stretched credulity. A 1-foot reduction causing irreparable harm? Really?!! During public testimony before a special SJRA Board meeting this morning, Lake Conroe callers mentioned that sales tax receipts are up, boaters are enjoying the lake, and home values are also up substantially since the seasonal lake lowering policy started.

Boats on Lake Conroe during last year’s seasonal lowering in the Spring.

Homeowners around Lake Conroe should demand to learn what and who is really behind this exercise.

Effect on SJRA

To date, the City of Houston has taken the lead on various pleadings. That makes sense because the lake lowering program involves its water.

The judge’s order this morning did not affect the SJRA. That’s because SJRA has not yet filed any answer, pleadings, or briefs in the case. The extent of SJRA activities on this case so far was to brief its board this morning and get its support to engage outside legal counsel. The board approved hiring two firms. Expect more from the SJRA in the coming days.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/9/2021

1319 Days since 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.

Lake Conroe Association Complains to TCEQ about Seasonal Lake Lowering

In June, the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) filed a 102-page complaint to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) through Austin attorneys about the San Jacinto River Authority’s (SJRA) policy of seasonally lowering Lake Conroe. The SJRA’s purpose for the lowering: to lower flood risk for downstream residents.

To download the complete complaint by Birch, Becker & Moorman LLP, click here. Warning: 20-meg file size.

Complaint Based on Three Arguments

The attorneys make three arguments.

  • State law prohibits the wasting of water.
  • The policy will not prevent downstream flooding.
  • Also, the policy threatens the area’s water supply.

“In summary,” says the complaint, “SJRA and Houston are only authorized to divert or release and use water from Lake Conroe for municipal, industrial, mining, and agricultural purposes. Any other use of surface water from Lake Conroe is not authorized by the Amended Certificate, and thus, is a violation of the Amended Certificate and state law.”

The complaint fails to mention flood control in that last list (prominently mentioned in the SJRA’s enabling legislation). To follow the LCA’s arguments to their logical extreme, SJRA would not have been allowed to release water during Harvey. Every home on Lake Conroe would have flooded.

TCEQ Response to Complaints

On July 29, the TCEQ replied to the complaint. Toby Baker, TCEQ’s Executive Director, says that:

  • “TCEQ does not have jurisdiction over future water supply strategies or State and Regional Water Planning.”
  • “Both SJRA and the City have adopted Water Conservation Plans that comply with TCEQ’s Chapter 288 rules.”
  • “Therefore, these diversions, which are in compliance with the terms of the Certificate and the Conservation Plan, are not a waste of water under the law.”
  • The City and SJRA are within their rights.

LCA Lodges Supplemental Complaint

Just the day before, on July 28, 2020, the same law firm filed a 4-page supplemental complaint to halt the fall lowering. The second complaint and the TCEQ’s response to the first complaint may have crossed in the mail.

The law firm acknowledged in its supplemental complaint that the lowering would only amount to 2.75 inches. However, the firm also claimed the water would be needed in a drought. Then it showed a Texas Water Development Board Drought Map as evidence. But map showed that no drought near the San Jacinto watershed.

TCEQ Finds City and SJRA in Compliance

Mr. Baker of the TCEQ replied to the supplemental complaint on August 6. He concluded, “After review, the TCEQ determined that the San Jacinto River Authority and the City of Houston are in compliance with the terms and conditions of Certificate of Adjudication 10-4963.”

In the End, Mother Nature, Not SJRA, Lowers Lake This Year

After all of that, evaporation alone took Lake Conroe down to the SJRA’s seasonal lowering target of 200 feet. It took Mother Nature an extra week to get there, but…

SJRA RELEASED NO WATER from Lake Conroe to achieve its August target level.

SJRA still has not released any water since the early spring.

Lake Conroe dashboard as of 4pm Saturday, August 15, 2020. Source: SJRA.net.

LCA Pleads for More Money to Keep Fighting

Now the Lake Conroe Association is pleading with residents for donations to replenish its war chest. It will be interesting to see what they plan next.

Posted by Bob Rehak on August 15, 2020

1082 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Harvey Remembered

“For a couple of weeks, I wasn’t able to work due to Hurricane Harvey,” said Kingwood resident Mike Combat Willcox. “So I documented the storm the best I could. I was thinking years into the future that we would need to remember how it happened and have something to show to our kids.”

He was right. We need this NOW as Lake Conroe residents fight to keep their lake full to the brim during rainy seasons.

A former TV producer-editor-photographer at ConocoPhillips, Willcox now runs his own real-estate photography business. Mike is also a world champion aeromodelling pilot, a skill he puts to good use in this video of Harvey.

8-Minute YouTube video courtesy of Mike Combat Willcox

I still have yet to see any comparable pictures of the damage to Lake Conroe homes and businesses caused by lowering the lake an average six inches beyond the normal amount lost due to evaporation.

Suggestion for Next SJRA Board Meeting

I wish the SJRA would play THIS before its next board meeting so that Lake Conroe residents could see why Kingwood residents are so eager to continue the temporary, seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe. Then maybe we could see a video from the Lake Conroe Association about all the damage caused by the lake lowering. That might help the two sides understand each other better.

Just sayin’.

Posted by Bob Rehak with thanks to Mike Combat Willcox for sharing his video

878 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Supports Continuing to Lower Lake Conroe Seasonally to Help Mitigate Flooding

On January 10, Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote the SJRA Board to support continued lowering of Lake Conroe. “This temporary measure,” said the Mayor, “will help mitigate against future flooding until permanent flood gates can be installed and dredging of the San Jacinto’s West Fork can be completed.”

Reminding LCA Who Owns the Water

The Mayor also reminded the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) that the City of Houston owns two thirds of the water in Lake Conroe.

Changing the LCA Narrative

Turner also addressed an LCA narrative that claims Lake Conroe was not built for flood control. It was built for drinking water, they say. But the letter changes that narrative. It says, “While the lake was originally constructed as a reservoir for drinking water, the Houston region has become increasingly prone to flooding due to population growth, development and more frequent storms with record rainfall. Both the City of Houston and the State of Texas recognize that flood control must be a consideration. The proactive release water is an effective measure until more permanent solutions can be completed.” See the full text of the Mayor’s letter below.

I have not always agreed with Mayor Turner, but I support him wholeheartedly on this.

Clash of Political Titans

Tuesday, Montgomery County Commissioners will vote on a resolution recommending to END the seasonal lowering of Lake Conroe.

I suspect Harris County Commissioners and the governor may enter this fray before the final vote.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/14/2019

868 Days after Hurricane Harvey

YouTube Video Shows Grand Harbor Boating Problems on Lake Conroe Predate SJRA Lowering Policy

At the 12/12/2019 San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board Meeting, several people talked about problems getting boats in and out of Grand Harbor, a waterfront development on Lake Conroe. They used this to argue against the lowering of the lake. No doubt, the temporary seasonal lowering policy of the SJRA Board makes recreation more difficult for these folks several months out of the year.

However, the seasonal lake lowering policy is just one of many Grand Harbor problems. And the navigation problems did not start with seasonal lake lowering.

Maintenance Issues Dating Back Years

Matt Newsom, a Grand Harbor resident, has produced several videos on waterfront issues associated with the development. In May of 2018, before the lake lowering policy ever started, he produced a video detailing maintenance problems in Grand Harbor. In it, Mr. Newsom describes the origins of Grand Harbor’s problems. They include:

  • Developer problems
  • Shallow excavation (6 feet)
  • Subsequent siltation
  • Unsold lots without bulkheading that let hillsides collapse into canals
  • Lack of maintenance
  • No planning for maintenance assessments
  • Broken spillway
  • Builders dumping debris into canals
  • POAs not accepting responsibility for maintenance
  • Homeowners unwilling to fund repairs
Screen Capture from Mr. Newsom’s May 2018 video detailing causes of Grand Harbor navigation problems.

Now Problem is Lake Lowering, Not Lack of Maintenance

Mr. Newsom also produced the YouTube video below in November of 2019. It discusses how seasonal lake lowering will affect lakefront property owners in Grand Harbor. It’s based on information provided to Mr. Newsom by the Lake Conroe Association. I reviewed this video last month. It makes no mention of the maintenance problems discussed in the May 2018 video, 18 months earlier, before lake lowering started.

Problems Go Far Deeper than Lake Lowering

I can’t fault Mr. Newsom for fighting for extra water. He appears to be a sincere community activist trying to rally support to tackle a tough problem. I admire him for that. If every community had leaders as committed and as articulate as Mr. Newsome, the world would be a much better place.

I just wish that in his second video he acknowledged that the problems go far deeper (no pun intended) than the lake lowering policy. Lake lowering worsens boating problems. But…

Had the problems outlined above been addressed in a timely way, lowering Lake Conroe would likely not have been the problem for Grand Harbor residents that it is today.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/13/2019

836 Days after Hurricane Harvey