As one of the key structures for water supply for Montgomery County and the city of Houston, the Lake Conroe Dam Division is celebrating its 50th year of operations while looking to future rehabilitation efforts.

“I don't know that anyone has a good idea of the life span of some of the components of the dam right now, which is why maintaining the dam is of utmost importance,” Lake Conroe Division Manager Bret Raley said.

Two-minute impact

Spanning roughly 2.2 miles, the Lake Conroe Dam is an earth-filled dam controlled by five gates, which rotate to open and close flow from Lake Conroe. The dam was constructed and filled in 1973 to serve as a water supply reservoir for the area.
  • Lake Conroe spans roughly 20,000 acres.
  • It is supplied by the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.
  • The normal lake height is 201 feet above sea level.
“There's a physical difference in the way flood control reservoirs and water supply reservoirs are made, and [Lake Conroe] is not made for it; we don't have enough capacity above when the lake is full,” Raley said.

When Lake Conroe is at full capacity, there is only about 18 inches of room for excess water to flow into before water has to begin to be released through the dam, Raley said.

Did you know?

While the dam is operated and maintained in Montgomery County, roughly two-thirds of the water within Lake Conroe is owned by the city of Houston. This is why during flood events, Houston city officials are able to request water from Lake Conroe to be released through the operations agreement between the two entities.

Dig Deeper

While Lake Conroe does provide surface water for a large portion of Montgomery County, the dam division also handles a number of other related operations, such as:
  • Licensing and permitting
  • Invasive species management
  • Native plant reforesting
  • Artificial habitat construction
  • Water quality testing
“We serve a lot of functions, but at the end of the day, we're here for one reason and one reason only: to make sure that that dam and that water supply stay there,” Raley said.

What’s next

Raley said the dam is under constant monitoring and maintenance to prevent a large-scale rehabilitation effort. However, one is likely necessary as some major repairs are upcoming, such as the replacement of the cables that hold and move the five dam gates, as well as cleaning of the gates themselves.

“If we were to see any anomaly, if we were to see a little depression or a wet spot, if we were to see something that we didn't see the last time or have never seen, right then we're going to stop, and we're going to investigate it,” Raley said.