Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

August 22, 2011

Lake Conroe: Goodbye, water (1/2″/day)

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:56 am
test4Lake Conroe: Goodbye, water Eric S. Swist

Lake Conroe: Goodbye, water

A jet skier speaks with a friend near a dock on Lake Conroe in this photo taken in late July.

Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:12 pm, Tue Aug 16, 2011.

By Howard Roden | Conroe Courier

The city of Houston ordered a gradual release of water from Lake Conroe Monday, leaving Montgomery County and Conroe officials uncertain about the reservoir’s immediate future.

Starting at noon today, officials with the San Jacinto River Authority will begin releasing 50 million gallons of water into the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.

That output is to increase to 100 million gallons on Wednesday, and then reach the 150 million gallon daily discharge rate Thursday previously considered by Houston.

The water pumped out of Lake Conroe will flow down to Lake Houston, where it will be used to “stabilize” the lake level for operational needs at Houston’s water treatment plant, according to an SJRA press release. Houston officials say the release is not to raise the Lake Houston level.

However, the official notice received by the SJRA Monday does not restrict Houston from using the approximate 67,000 acre-feet of water that is its share in the lake. The SJRA owns the remaining third of surface water, which is about 33,000 acre-feet.

“Assuming this (drought) were to continue, (Houston) could use all of its water,” SJRA Deputy General Manager Jace Houston said.

That could lower the lake level between three and three and a half feet, according to the SJRA press release. And with Lake Conroe already four feet below its standard of 201 feet above mean sea level, residents, business owners and elected officials share concerns.

County Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador worries about the declining market values of the homes around the lake.

“It’s not very good for local economy if these conditions last much longer,” he said.

Montgomery County Judge Alan B. Sadler said he had “lots of fears” as to where Lake Conroe is headed.

With the extended drought and continued lack of rain the area is moving into uncharted territory, Conroe Mayor Webb Melder said.

“There is no portion of this county that is expendable. We’re all in this together,” he added. “Hopefully this situation will bring forth a unified, honest cooperative effort at all levels to develop an alternative water supply for Lake Conroe.”

A Walden resident and a board member of the Lake Conroe Communities Network, Dan Davis said the public should “look beyond” the drought and focus on developing much needed infrastructure for the future.

For what should be the busiest weekend of the summer, businessmen are approaching Labor Day with trepidation. Gordon Hill moved his boat and jet ski rental business to the North Shore Marina but the low dock conditions have followed him.

“You can’t get a duck in there,” he said. “We’ve looked at other locations but it’s getting tough.”

A weekend that might generate $2,500-$4,000 now might bring $1,200, he said.

“It’s a serious situation. We may end up closing down,” Hill said.

The amount of water released from Lake Conroe will be monitored and adjusted daily based on weather conditions.

The estimated release of 150 million gallons a day equates to half an inch per day, and three or four inches per week. During the hot summer months, this is slightly more than the amount of water that evaporates from the reservoir each week, so the overall decline in lake level could be approximately five to six inches per week.

Lakefront property owners with boat slips should monitor water levels and take appropriate action as needed to trailer their boats or store them in marinas until normal rainfall patterns return and lake levels begin to rise, the SJRA release notes.

For more details, visit the SJRA’s website at www.sjra.net.

++++++++++

A silver lining?

Once the lake home values decrease, don’t you think homeowners will get a notice from the county appraisal district whereby the taxable value has been reduced and their tax will be less?  They should check their mail boxes daily for that notice!

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