Image: Houston’s Astrodome seen from top tier of seats.
Conroe, September 19 – When the San Jacinto River Authority began to release 79,131 cubic feet per second of water out of the Lake Conroe Dam gates, at around 2 a.m. on August 28, 2017, the State of Texas subdivision unleashed a raging torrent of physical force the likes of which this community has never seen. After the flooding on Friday, September 1, SJRA’s Jace Houston, its general manager, said in a public relations video, “we understand there will be devastating flooding downstream but we don’t have the option to stop releases to avoid the catastrophic consequences.”
Thousands of people have begun to question how the SJRA could have taken this action which, they claim, flooded thousands of homes and literally shoved many of them off their foundations. State Representative Dan Huberty, Republican of Kingwood, State Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe, and Former State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of The Woodlands have called for an investigation into SJRA’s actions, particularly its decision not to pre-release water from the dam, despite several days of advance notice of the impending Harvey storm. Many also question why SJRA did not provide extensive early warning to the neighborhoods downstream.
Local mathematician Jim Bays of Conroe has explained the massively deadly force which SJRA released through the Lake Conroe Dam gates early in the morning on August 28th. “The 79,131 cfs terminology may be the politically correct way for SJRA to describe the water, but people need to understand it in human terms. That may be SJRA’s game, but let’s talk about the actual volume of the water,” Bays told The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper.
Bays explained, “79, 131 cubic feet per second is the same as 591,941 gallons per second, or 35,516,459 gallons of water per minute. That’s 2,130,987,553 gallons of water per hour. That’s right. That’s 2.1 billion gallons per hour of water that SJRA released on our community from pinpoint gates that increase the velocity and force of the water tremendously.”
Bays continued: “The Astrodome has a volume of 41,000,000 cubic feet. The water released, thanks to SJRA, was the equivalent of filling the Astrodome every 518 seconds or 8.6 minutes, and then dumping that into Montgomery County. SJRA dumped an Astrodome of water downstream every few minutes.”
The Golden Hammer asked Bays, the mathematician, what velocity he would expect the water to have had as it left the Lake Conroe Dam gates. In response, Bays stated, “Without knowing the width of the gates, it’s difficult to do a precise calculation of velocity. Nevertheless, that amount of water coming out of the dam gates which I have visually observed would move with such great force it would literally knock the skin off of any human being standing in front of it and not moving with the flow.”
Bays graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics. He regularly examines problems related to quantitative flow rates.