Created by the Texas Legislature in 1937 (Article 8280-121, as amended), the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) is a government agency whose mission is to develop, conserve, and protect the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin. Covering all or part of seven counties, the organization’s jurisdiction includes the entire San Jacinto River watershed, excluding Harris County. The SJRA is one of 10 major river authorities in the State of Texas, and like other river authorities, its primary purpose is to implement long-term, regional projects related to water supply and wastewater treatment.
The SJRA boundaries include the entire watershed of the San Jacinto River and its tributaries excluding Harris County. This includes all of Montgomery County and parts of Walker, Waller, San Jacinto, Grimes, and Liberty Counties. SJRA serves many customers in the Houston area and is authorized to operate in East Harris County through an agreement with the City of Houston, which allows the SJRA to operate east of the San Jacinto River.
The SJRA’s general offices are located at Lake Conroe. SJRA has four separate operating divisions:
Lake Conroe Division – Located at the Lake Conroe Dam, seven miles west of the City of Conroe, the Lake Conroe Division’s primary function is the operation and maintenance of the dam, spillway structure, and service outlet at Lake Conroe. In addition, this Division handles inspection and enforcement functions related to water quality, including permitting and monitoring of on-site sewage systems around Lake Conroe. To maintain the safety of Lake Conroe for navigation and recreation, and to manage the construction of permanent structures on the lake, the Lake Conroe Division also administers boating safety and navigation hazard marking, removal, and enforcement programs, as well as permit programs for residential docks, piers, marinas, commercial operations, and marine sanitation facilities. Constructed by SJRA beginning in 1969, Lake Conroe was completed in 1973 as a water supply reservoir through a joint venture with the City of Houston, which owns two-thirds of the water rights in the reservoir.
Woodlands Division – Located in southern Montgomery County, the Woodlands Division provides wholesale water supply and wastewater treatment services to the 100,000-plus population of The Woodlands through the financing, construction, operation, and maintenance of three regional wastewater treatment plants, a wastewater conveyance system with numerous lift stations, five water plants, 38 water wells, several elevated and ground storage tanks, and miles of wastewater collection and potable water distribution lines. Since 1975, the Woodlands Division has served as the wholesaler to the 12 municipal utility districts that provide retail services within The Woodlands.
Highlands Division – Located in east Harris County, the Highlands Division delivers raw water from Lake Houston and the Trinity River through an extensive 27-mile system of canals and a 1,400-acre staging reservoir in order to provide water to customers such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and a number of other industrial, municipal, and agricultural customers pursuant to long-term water supply contracts. The Highlands Division delivers more water each day than all of SJRA’s other operating divisions combined and has been SJRA’s principle enterprise for almost its entire 75-year history.
GRP Division – Located at the Lake Conroe Dam, the Groundwater Reduction Plan Division is responsible for implementing a countywide program that will meet the requirements of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to substantially reduce future groundwater usage from the Gulf Coast Aquifer by ensuring a reliable, long-term diversified portfolio of alternative water supply sources for all of Montgomery County. The GRP Division will utilize a number of alternative water strategies, including conservation, reuse of treated wastewater effluent, groundwater from all Gulf Coast Aquifers including the Catahoula Aquifer (and possibly other remote groundwater sources), and surface water from Lake Conroe (and possibly other surface water sources). Phase 1 of the GRP strategy will include the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and administration of a water treatment plant and transmission lines that will treat raw surface water to meet or exceed drinking water standards, and then deliver treated water to cities and utilities within Montgomery County in the most cost-effective manner.