The City of Houston started taking 15 million more gallons a day from Lake Conroe this weekend to help meet water demands during the drought.

The move increases the amount of water released from Lake Conroe into Lake Houston to 165 million gallons per day.

The city expects Lake Conroe’s levels to drop by about six inches.

Because Lake Houston is smaller and more shallow, it is expected to rise 1 foot.

However, the San Jacinto River Authority, which operates the lakes, estimates Lake Conroe’s levels will drop by up to 1.5-feet a month.

According to the authority’s Lake Conroe division’s website, the lake is currently at 194.32 feet above mean sea level, about 6.7 feet below its normal level of 201 feet.

They city funded construction of both lakes decades ago on the San Jacinto River to secure the city’s water supply. Lake Houston, covering 12,000 acres in northeast Harris County, began operations in 1953, followed by the 21,000-acre Lake Conroe in Montgomery County in 1973.

Lake Conroe is used to hold water in reserve until Lake Houston’s water plant needs it.

City officials say the higher release will likely be in effect through the end of the year, despite recent rains. However the rain did saturate soil along the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston, and cooler temperatures mean less evaporation, so more of the water released will actually reach and stay in Lake Houston.

Meanwhile, mandated water conservations in Houston continues with lawn watering restricted to twice a week before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

Residents must also repair all detectable leaks on their property within 72 hours of discovery.

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