Health & Science

Houston Will Increase Water Withdrawals From Lake Conroe

The City of Houston began drawing water from Lake Conroe in August. Now city officials say they need to take even more water. The city is trying to max out its yearly water allotment before 2011 ends.


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The city pumps drinking water from Lake Houston and Lake Livingston. Of the two, Lake Houston is smaller and shallower. Despite some recent rain, the water level is still more than five feet below normal.

Roberto Medina is with the city’s public works department.

“It’s not over, unfortunately. We continue to experience drought-like conditions and we continue to remain in stage 2 water shortage.”

Watering restrictions remain in place, and water demand has gone down.

But city officials want to stabilize Lake Houston.

They’ve told the San Jacinto River Authority to send even more water downstream from Lake Conroe.

Jace Houston is a deputy manger with the Authority.  

“I wasn’t expecting them to need more water, but the reasons they’re giving make sense to me.”

The Authority is already releasing 150 million gallons a day from Lake Conroe.

But the city has ordered a 10 percent increase in that amount.

By doing that, the city will max out its water allotment for 2011 from Lake Conroe.

“Their logic makes sense. They’d like to go ahead and get that water into Lake Houston, because they’ll need it if this drought continues into 2012.”

Lake Conroe is down by six and a half feet.

Boaters are dealing with more water hazards like sandbars and snags.

But Jace Houston says the system is working as planned:

“What’s hard for people to understand is that Lake Conroe, Lake Houston, Lake Livingston — all of these are water-supply reservoirs. They were built to store water for a drought. We’re in a drought and they’re functioning the way that they’re supposed to. And unfortunately it means we’re going to have to live with a little bit of inconvenience for a while until we can get some rain.”

Lake Conroe has enough water for a seven-year drought, if both Houston and the River Authority pull out their maximum water allotments each year.

From the KUHF Health Science and Technology Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

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