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 still has not released any water since the early spring.
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