A temporary flood mitigation strategy, which includes lowering Lake Conroe's water level and employing pre-storm releases from Lake Houston, moves closer to reality following approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on Friday.

The San Jacinto River Authority and the city of Houston were waiting on the TCEQ to approve the joint proposal before finalizing the proposal, according to a June 16 news release from the entities. According to the release, the TCEQ notified the entities on June 15 that the agency would use “enforcement discretion” if flood mitigation releases for Lake Conroe and Lake Houston exceed annual water rights.

The joint proposal includes seasonally lowering Lake Conroe’s water level by 1 foot in April and May, or to 200 feet above mean sea level, and by 2 feet in August and September, or to 199 feet above mean sea level. The SJRA board of directors approved the Lake Conroe portion of the proposal in late April.

During a recent interview, SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said the flood mitigation strategy is temporary and could take up to two years. If implemented, it would provide time for dredging to be done to the West Fork of the San Jacinto River, as well as increase the reservoir’s capacity to hold rainfall during storms and potentially reduce flooding downstream, Houston said.

The SJRA and the city of Houston needed approval from the TCEQ because the entity regulates how much drinking water can be released annually from water supply reservoirs like Lake Conroe and Lake Houston, according to the news release.

The SJRA is permitted to divert 100,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Conroe annually, Houston said. With the TCEQ decision, water released from Lake Conroe if it is seasonally lowered, as well as water discharged from Lake Houston in pre-storm releases, will not count as part of their permitted annual water usage, Houston said.

The flood mitigation strategies still need to be finalized by Houston City Council, as the entity owns two-thirds of the drinking water in Lake Conroe. Houston City Council meets weekly on Tuesdays for workshop meetings and on Wednesdays for action meetings.

To read more about the proposal and its potential impact on Lake Conroe area property owners, check out Community Impact Newspaper's June cover story in the Conroe and Montgomery edition, which will be in mailboxes this week.