Houston metro success story: Lake Conroe project 2013
Beginning in the mid-1980s, water systems in southeast Texas saw consistent well declines every year, as demand exceeded what aquifers could supply. The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District was created in 2001 to manage groundwater requirements and mandated that water utilities in Montgomery County would need to convert to another water supply by 2016.
To reach this goal, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has entered into contracts with more than 80 large volume groundwater users in Montgomery County to develop and construct a project that meets the mandate for the groundwater reduction. That project will develop Lake Conroe as a surface water supply.
The Texas Water Development Board provided $494 million in financing to get the project rolling. "TWDB's financial assistance has been extremely important,” says Jace Houston, SJRA General Manager. "While still in the planning stages, we intended to maximize the use of TWDB funds so we could save our customers money. [Through TWDB] SJRA can access a better credit rating and interest rates—this is critical."
The project is currently under construction. It includes a raw water intake and pump station, a surface water treatment plant, storage and pumping facilities and approximately 60 miles of transmission lines. "Water will be delivered to Conroe, The Woodlands and other communities, providing drinking water for about 160,000 people," Houston says.
This plan is the first time surface water from Lake Conroe will be used for drinking water. It will help entities comply with groundwater requirements, while stabilizing groundwater levels for those who are still on groundwater wells.
Houston says that indirectly, the Lake Conroe project will help communities plan for long-term needs—something that's important to industries thinking about locating to the area. "In the long term for Montgomery County, we can ensure our water supply will never be a limiting factor to continued economic growth," he states. "Conroe can now tell industries 'We have a stable water supply if you locate here.'”