LCA President’s Update
November 17, 2013
I could begin this LCA President’s Update in many ways, but recent rainfall and how much better our lake looks seems to be the conversation I hear most. How magnificent that Mother Nature finally decided to bless us with a substantial rain event while also not injuring people or damaging property in the process. We had a beautiful, steady rain that just had to bring a smile to your face. With Lake Conroe currently at a level of 198.89, or only 2.11 feet down from “normal pool”, we’re within reach of “normal pool” of 201.0 with one more steady rain. A brief summary of our rain event follows:
Rainfall at dam site Lake Level at 9AM
October 27 1.24 inches 197.26 feet
October 30 2.12 inches 197.5 feet
October 31 1.80 inches 198.4 feet
November 1 198.82 feet
November 2 198.98 feet
November 7 199.02 feet
November 21 198.89 feet
For those more skeptical of a rain event ever filling Lake Conroe, just remember that in the 29 days ended November 10, 2006, the lake rose from an elevation of 196.68 to 201.27 (or 4.59 feet)!
The last date on which water was released at the dam by SJRA was May 21, 2010.
2013 WAS A SLOW YEAR AT LCA:
2013 proved to be rather uneventful for the Lake Conroe Association (LCA). While we gathered information on lake-related, local topics of interest to keep informed, no singular issue demanded significant time or funding. The LCA Board held only six (6) Board Meetings during 2013 with limited agenda topics to discuss. We elected to avoid a Fund Raising Campaign for the 3rd consecutive year based on maintaining adequate cash balances, keeping our expenses to a bare minimum, and not identifying any projects requiring a large cash payment. A summary of 2013 topics follows.
AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT:
By far and away the single largest topic covered during my nine (9) years as LCA President has been the control of aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe. We all remember the menacing Hydrilla Infestation from 2006 to 2008 which, at its height, covered over 2,050 surface acres (or 10% of the lake’s surface) and threatened to destroy all boating activity, lake enjoyment, and lake-related businesses. To a lesser but still significant level, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia likewise threatened to choke out Lake Conroe’s waterways. Thanks to the combined efforts of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the LCA, sufficient personnel and financial resources were contributed to correct the problem. But the “THANKS” don’t stop there. Without the generosity of our LCA Members who contributed over $600,000 to the LCA for Aquatic Plant Management, we could have never succeeded in taking our lake back from the invasive plants.
TPWD has just completed its 2013 Lake Conroe Vegetation Survey and reports a very healthy Lake Conroe. As of October 31, 2013, TPWD reports the following: Hydrilla (Only a few scattered sprigs in very shallow water), Water Hyacinth (No mats but significant scattered plants especially in Caney Creek), Giant Salvinia (Almost none), and Native Vegetation (A few hundred acres of native emergent plants consisting of about a 4 foot wide band in 2 feet or less of water around the National Forest. This was before the recent rains. Considering what was on the shoreline, we probably have 500 acres or more of native emergent vegetation in the water now). Where nominal infestations have occurred during 2013, TPWD and SJRA have treated the areas with aquatic herbicides to control any outbreaks. No White Amur Grass Carp have been added to Lake Conroe since February, 2008 as the Hydrilla infestation has been reduced to small, juvenile patches in upper lake streams where treatment applications are difficult. Should you identify any of these invasive plants near your shoreline or while out boating, please report the location to Mark Webb of TPWD ([email protected]), Jordan Austin of SJRA ([email protected]) or the LCA (www.lakeconroeassociation.com). If you are able to include a photograph with your e-mail, it helps to make a more certain plant identification.
Zebra Mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that can spread by hitching a ride on boats and trailers. They grow to about 1 ½ inches and develop a distinctive zebra-striped shell. One Zebra Mussel can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. They can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage such as:
• Encrusting and adding weight to boat hulls; clogging water systems used in boat motors, air conditioners and heads
• Threatening our water supply by colonizing inside pipelines, restricting the flow of water, and damaging water intake structures which results in higher water bills for homes and businesses
• Taking over habitats from native species, damaging lake ecology and impacting fish populations
To date, Zebra Mussels have been identified in the following Texas waters: Lake Texoma, Belton Lake, Stillhouse Hollow, Leon River, Lampasas River, Lewisville Lake, Lake Ray Roberts, and Lake Lavon. The most current information on Zebra Mussels can be reviewed on TPWD’s website at www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels.
TPWD’s campaign to fight the spread of Zebra Mussels includes a policy of CLEAN, DRY and DRAIN all surfaces to which a Zebra Mussel or its larvae could attach itself. This typically includes exterior watercraft hulls, motors, bilges, livewells, and bait buckets. A new prospect identified for transporting Zebra Mussel larvae is wakeboard ballast bladders.
It is ILLEGAL to transport Zebra Mussels – knowingly or unknowingly in the State of Texas. The law imposes a fine of up to $500 for the first incident (a Class C misdemeanor), and steeper fines with possible jail time, for subsequent offenses.
The LCA considered a campaign in 2013 to stencil warnings onto the actual concrete or paved launch surface at each public boat launch on Lake Conroe at a cost of $1,700 per location but, in the end, felt the monies were not an adequate deterrent compared to the $30,000+ pricetag. Further, we felt the spread of Zebra Mussels needed to be focused at the infestation sites – meaning those Texas lakes and rivers where Zebra Mussels had already been identified. TPWD has an active signage campaign at those infested locations to inform boaters of the danger and penalty of transporting Zebra Mussels, and has extended that signage campaign to include all Texas lakes. You will see this signage at most Lake Conroe public boat launches.
We have included a brief LCA flyer that hopes to draw attention to the Zebra Mussel problem. It should be noted that Zebra Mussels have not been identified “IN” Lake Conroe yet, but more than one vessel trying to be launched into Lake Conroe has been stopped prior to launching due to Marina self-inspections identifying a Zebra Mussel infestation on or in that vessel. Please do your part when launching a boat or jet ski into Lake Conroe that has visited another body of water…and inspect the vessel before launching anywhere. Be sure your friends and relatives are aware of the law and boat clean-up program before they launch in any public fresh waters. There are currently over 600 Zebra Mussel-infected lakes in the U.S.
LCA ANNUAL MEETING:
The Annual Meeting of the LCA and its election of our Board of Directors occurs on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 11AM at the SJRA Meeting Room off Highway 105 on Dam Site road. We will be mailing proxies to our Members in approximately two (2) weeks for election of our 2014 Board. I am pleased to have worked with all six (6) LCA Directors who have volunteered their time for a minimum of nine (9) consecutive years now. If you run into one of them, please acknowledge the contributions of Ben Richardson (Palms Marina and EZ Boat Storage), Tom Butz (Bentwater), Jim Pohoski (Rancho Escondido), Rich Cutler (Shelter Bay), Gene Colbert (Bentwater) and Gene Barrington (Del Lago). For anyone interested, we always welcome individuals who would like to volunteer and join our LCA Board.
NO 2014 LCA FUND RAISING:
As we do not anticipate an “event” in 2014 requiring significant cash, the LCA Board has decided that a LCA Fund Raising Campaign is NOT necessary at this time. Any individual or business currently considered “a Member” will have that designation extended through 2014. We are operating on the assumption that, if a significant event occurred that required further finances, a future letter requesting contributions would be favorably received. In the past, our Members have always generously risen to the occasion when a request was made. Of course, contributions made payable to the “Lake Conroe Association” are always accepted at Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, TX 77378. As a Section 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, your contributions to the LCA should be tax-deductible.
LCA PRESENTATION ON WATER AND LAKE LEVELS:
I am currently editing a LCA presentation on local water geography, rainfall, lake levels and the future SJRA Water Treatment Facility. Ever since the 2010 Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) announcement that aquifer use must be reduced by thirty percent (30%) from 2009 usage levels and SJRA’s announcement that a Water Treatment Facility would be constructed to utilize waters from Lake Conroe to meet the water demands of Montgomery County, people have expressed grave concerns over effects on Lake Conroe lake levels. As a lakefront property owner myself, I joined the list of those concerned and elected to become more involved in this topic. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be appointed by Governor Perry to the Board of the San Jacinto River Authority and have become far more “educated” on this topic. I regularly hear repetitive questions from friends and LCA Members regarding water, in general, and thought it best to prepare some form of presentation on those frequently asked questions. With the help of the LCA Board and significant information contributions from SJRA Managers and staff, the LCA will be prepared to hold its first public presentation within two (2) months. The intent is to schedule meetings through sub-division POA’s or HOA’s. I’d imagine that the presentation will evolve as attendees ask questions and present suggestions. More information will follow soon.
SENATOR NICHOLS TO SPEAK:
I have been asked by the Lake Conroe Community Network (LCCN) to pass along that they have engaged Senator Robert Nichols to speak at the Walden Yacht Club on December 4, 2013 at 6:30PM. Senator Nichols has been most instrumental in representing the needs of Montgomery County and eighteen (18) surrounding counties. He will speak on what was accomplished during the last Legislative Session and on the recently passed Propositions. We all desire to show Senator Nichols how much we value his service, and hope you will show your support by generating a large turnout for this event. For further information, please contact Bill Marshall at [email protected].
YES, I’M FINALLY DONE:
Thanks so much for reading another long LCA President’s Update. Once I get started, it’s hard for me to stop writing as I’m very passionate about our Lake Conroe community and the whole of Montgomery County. Should you have questions or comments, you can communicate through the LCA website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com or my personal web address at [email protected]. Congratulations on being part of the best lake community in Texas!