City of Houston approves lake-lowering plans for Lake Conroe, Lake Houston

Lake Conroe shore near the San Jacinto River Authority
Lake lowering-protocols for Lake Conroe (pictured) and Lake Houston can go into effect beginning in spring 2022. (Jishnu Nair/Community Impact Newspaper

Lake lowering-protocols for Lake Conroe (pictured) and Lake Houston can go into effect beginning in spring 2022. (Jishnu Nair/Community Impact Newspaper

Image description
An illustration of how Lake Conroe's lowering will take place with the new protocols (Ellen Jackson/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Houston, through its public works department, gave its approval Jan. 20 to a set of protocols controlling the water levels in Lake Conroe and Lake Houston, according to the San Jacinto River Authority, which manages the lake levels. The protocols would run until 2023.

The SJRA board of directors had previously approved the protocols unanimously at a Dec. 23 board meeting. The plan sets out different criteria for Lake Conroe and Lake Houston in the spring and fall seasons.

In the spring, Lake Conroe would be lowered by 6 inches to 200.5 ft mean sea level beginning April 1 and running until June, Houston said. In the fall, the lake would begin lowering in August by 6 inches, with a further 6 inches following Labor Day, according to Houston.

The spring recommendation would be a decrease from previous protocols calling for a 1-foot lowering, while the fall recommendation would be a decrease from the lake’s previous 18-inch lowering protocol.

In between lowering periods, the lake would be allowed to return to its usual mean of 201 feet above sea level. If the lake had already lost 6 inches in any of its lowering periods through evaporation, further lowering would not be required.

For Lake Houston, the lake lowering limits would require 1 foot of capacity if rainfall is gauged to meet or exceed 3 inches per 24 hours, according to the proposal text.

For both lakes, the city of Houston would retain the authority to call for further capacity releases for major storm events, according to the presentation.

Houston said stakeholders, such as the city of Houston and Montgomery County, would discuss the protocols in fall 2022 to evaluate their effect.

In addition to the lake limits, stakeholders agreed to support efforts to “limit further construction of habitable structures below 207 feet above sea level” around Lake Conroe. However, only those with construction permitting authority such as Montgomery County can prevent that construction from taking place.

By Jishnu Nair

Reporter, North Houston Metro

Jishnu joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter in July 2021. Previously, he worked as a digital producer for a television station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and studied at Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Originally from New Jersey, Jishnu covers the North Houston metro area, including Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe and Montgomery, as well as the Woodlands and Lake Houston areas.