Conroe, March 1 – It’s a letter Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe, Senator Robert Nichols (R-Tyler), and State Representatives Steve Toth (R-Conroe), Will Metcalf (R-Conroe), and Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia) should all read immediately. It’s a letter for which San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board of Directors member Kaaren Cambio, whom Governor Abbott appointed to that Board as a representative of the people flooded downstream of the Lake Conroe Dam during the Harvey Storm, should confront SJRA Board President Lloyd Tisdale and SJRA General Manager Jace Houston.
It’s a letter, which Tisdale and Houston wrote four months BEFORE the Harvey Storm, that curdles the blood of any real person not focused on making more profits from surface water sales. The full letter (with the recipient’s personal identifying information redacted to protect the innocent victim) appears at the bottom of this article.
Clearly, neither Tisdale or Houston should be anywhere near positions of responsibility at SJRA. Governor Abbott should act to remove them forthwith.
Tisdale and Houston sent the letter on April 26, 2017, to a victim of flooding. Rather than comforting the victim, they told the victim to jump in the Lake, literally.
Before discussing the letter, it’s important to remember that SJRA has a duty “to provide flood control” for the entire watershed of the San Jacinto River, which such watershed includes all of Montgomery County as well as other adjacent areas, above the Harris County line. That duty emanates from SJRA’s Enabling Act, which the Texas Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law in 1937.
Senator Creighton made SJRA’s duty to provide flood control clear to Jace Houston, SJRA’s General Manager, who attempted to practice obtuseness during the October 16, 2017, hearing of the Texas Senate Agriculture Committee.
Nevertheless, with their total focus on monopolizing and profiting from surface water sales to municipal utility districts, cities, and utility companies, which they often have forced to purchase water from them, similar to the manner in which gangster Alphonse Capone would force the purchase of “protection” on small proprietors in inner-city neighborhoods, Houston and Tisdale clearly have lost any human ability for compassion or sympathy.
Here are the highlights of the disgusting April 26, 2017, letter from Tisdale and Houston to a local flood victim:
- “Your chief concern appears to be that SJRA’s operation of the Lake Conroe Dam contributes to the flooding of your land.”
- “Lake Conroe is a water supply reservoir.”
- “That means the Lake is operated to maximize the amount of water held in storage behind the Dam in the body of Lake Conroe.” (Now, it’s clear why SJRA, Tisdale, and Houston didn’t want to pre-release water immediately before the Harvey Storm.)
- “During rain events, SJRA operates the Lake Conroe Dam so as not to contribute to downstream flooding.” (They definitely failed during the Harvey Storm!)
- “You…have suggested that SJRA is ‘mandated’ or has the ‘responsibility’ to perform certain functions, including flood control and protection of the San Jacinto River watershed from the point of origin to the Harris County line and to prevent the devastation of lands from recurrent overflows. In response, we would point out that SJRA’s enabling statute gives SJRA the legal ability, but not the legal responsibility, to perform numerous tasks.”
- “While SJRA would like to be able to perform any number of these tasks that are within its legal abilities, SJRA performs targeted tasks that are financially justifiable to its customers.”
- “SJRA cannot justify spending its limited funds on clean up and restoration activities that affect only one or a handful of landowners along the San Jacinto River, nor could it justify such use of funds to its customers.”
“SJRA cannot justify spending its limited funds on clean up and restoration activities that affect only one or a handful of landowners along the San Jacinto River, nor could it justify such use of funds to its customers.”
That’s a summary of the letter. The full letter is at the end of this article. There is, however, one additional note for readers to consider, which is a screen shot of the August 31, 2018, audited financial statement, which SJRA just released and approved:
In other words, SJRA has $48.5 million of “unrestricted net position,” of which $37.2 million is “unrestricted cash” according to SJRA’s Balance Sheet, dated August 31, 2018.
Finally, a rewrite of one sentence in Tisdale’s and Houston’s letter seems appropriate:
“SJRA cannot justify spending its limited funds of $37.2 million in unrestricted cash on clean up and restoration activities that affect only one or a handful of landowners along the San Jacinto River, nor could it justify such use of funds to its customers.”
The entire blood curdling letter follows.