During Conroe City Council’s April 24 workshop meeting, City Engineer Chris Bogert told council he has serious concerns about the city’s water capacity and said development is outpacing infrastructure.

What happened

As part of an update on capital improvement program projects, Bogert told council members the city has already done the easy things, such as adjusting valves and shifting water where they can.

“We need some more serious solutions,” Bogert said. “We’re currently working with [Public Works Director Norman McGuire’s] group in operations to come up with some of those things—things like involuntary irrigation reduction, expediting flows, maybe getting other sources. All of these resolutions, though, have a negative impact either to citizens or a monetary impact.”

Bogert also said the city has received some documentation from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding Conroe’s percentage of usage and trying to reduce that.

“Really, the development has outpaced our infrastructure, and this is my sixth well in about 2 1/2 years,” Bogert said. “We’re making water. We’re making it fast. We just can’t keep up with development.”

Bogert said the answer may be slowing down development or doing something else like that. Nearby in Montgomery County, the city of Magnolia has been under a temporary development moratorium since late 2022 due to a lack of enough water capacity.

Diving in deeper

Bogert also mentioned cutting CIP projects impacting the city’s water capacity.

“We’ve mentioned it on these CIPs, and you know we kind of laugh, ‘Hey, we cut the CIP 63 to 21.’ That’s what’s impacted it,” Bogert said. “So I lose those funds for that infrastructure. And I’m not criticizing anyone, and you know I’m not political. I’m just telling you we have water problems.”

In the fiscal year 2023-24 CIP, the city budgeted $37.45 million for 17 water projects, according to the CIP document on the city’s website. That is an increase from FY 2022-23 when $30.96 million was budgeted for 16 water projects, according to the CIP document.

“Y’all’ve seen the list; y’all’ve seen the ask, and it ends up being a very select group of projects,” McGuire said. “The severity of it is we’re triaging critical infrastructure projects as we speak. It’s hard to juggle them because they’re all critical.”

Bogert did say Conroe’s wastewater capacity is not quite as dire as the city’s water capacity.

What they’re saying

  • “I know we’ve been kicking that can down the road for quite a while, and I think it’s the end of the road,” council member Harry Hardman said.
  • “Wherever we can save money, we probably need to divert to this because water is crucial,” council member Marsha Porter said.

Stay tuned

In response to Bogert’s comments, Porter told Collin Boothe, the city’s director of finance and assistant city administrator, that she would like to see water infrastructure made a priority during budget discussions, which should begin this summer.