Conservation Matters August 2012

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Study eyes economic impact of Lake Conroe's lowering levels

Lake ConroeThough ranked as one of the fastest growing counties in the nation for the last two decades, groundwater-dependent Montgomery County, Texas, is confronted with a looming water crisis that threatens its future growth, according to a recentĀ study by urban planners in the Texas A&M University College of Architecture.

The study investigated how increasing regional demands for water fromĀ Lake Conroe and resulting reductions in the recreational lake's water level might impact the area's economy. Though researchers found that anticipated lower lake levels present a threat, limited primarily to the lake-area economy, they said the impending regional water crisis poses a more significant peril to the county's longstanding prosperity.

To mitigate the threat, the study urges county water management authorities to institute immediate, proactive water conservation measures as they seek to diversify their water resources and negotiate an authoritative voice in how the lake's water is used.

Though home to the 20,100-acre lake, Montgomery County is facing imminent water shortages because its growing population relies almost exclusively on freshwater aquifers, or groundwater, for its water supply, and those sources are being depleted faster than they can recharge, explained Dr. George Rogers, professor in Texas A&M's Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and the study's principal investigator.

Montgomery County, as shown the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Censuses, has benefited from dynamic growth. However, "this growth is fundamentally related to the economic health of the county," the study notes, and "is not sustainable without water. The current reliance on historically used freshwater aquifers, as the sole source of water is rapidly becoming a limitation on the future growth of the area."

Read the full article from the College of Architecture for more information.

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