3 takeaways from the Montgomery County flood protection study meeting, July 13

Representatives from the San Jacinto River Authority, Montgomery County and the city of Conroe hosted the first of three public meetings to update residents on an early warning system project and a flood protection study for the West Fork San Jacinto River watershed.

The hearing came after the entities received a grant in August 2016 from the Texas Water Development Board to start the first phase of a Flood Protection Planning Project in the watershed from Lake Conroe to Lake Creek. Phase one covers 110 stream miles and the future phase two will cover 69 stream miles.

1. What to expect from first phase of Flood Protection Planning Project

Phase one of the project costs $920,000, funding upgraded hydraulic and hydrology systems and enhancing early warning capabilities in the region. With $460,000 of the project funded by the TWDB, the remaining $460,000 was provided by the SJRA, Montgomery County and the city of Conroe. The SJRA contributed $230,000, the city of Conroe contributed $140,000 and Montgomery County contributed $90,000 to this project.

Existing monitoring systems in the region gauge rainfall, but upgrades during phase one will improve the system’s technology, allowing it to also monitor creek levels, humidity and more. Twelve monitoring systems within phase one’s geographical area will be upgraded and five additional systems will be installed, according to Bret Raley, SJRA Lake Conroe division manager.

Local property owners will benefit by model upgrades, because the gauges will be able to predict flood level conditions 24 hours sooner.

The repeater antenna currently transmitting flood gauge information to early warning systems will also be moved to higher ground to provide better transmission, and a second antenna will be installed.

2. Phase two of project requires comparable grant funds

Phase two consists of adding more monitoring systems across Montgomery County, but officials must submit a second grant application to the TWDB. David Parkhill, SJRA director of raw water enterprise, said funds for phase two will be comparable to those needed for phase one.

Parkhill said phase two would include field surveying in locations significantly affected by flooding in order to eliminate floodplains. Parkhill encouraged local home owner’s associations, municipal utility districts and other entities to collaborate on the project and submit letters of support for phase two.

3. Second public meeting scheduled for February

Two more public meetings will be held in February and June 2018. Times, dates and locations are yet to be announced.

For more information about the project, visit www.sjra.net.
By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.