Nearly 60 Harris County homeowners are suing two state agencies for what they say has been more than two decades of mismanagement of the Lake Conroe Dam, flooding their houses multiple times, including from Hurricane Harvey.
In a class-action lawsuit filed Monday, 58 families from Kingwood, Atascotia and Humble accuse the San Jacinto River Authority and the Texas Water Development Board of “intentional flooding” of their homes with releases from the dam dating as far back as 1994. The agencies, the suit alleges, have repeatedly violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, which requires governments provide “just compensation” for any private property taken for public use.
On at least seven occasions, the suit contends, the two agencies have orchestrated “catastrophic floods” that have “turned pristine homes into mold hazards” and “turned family neighborhoods into wasteland” without ever compensating for damages.
Neither agency could be reached for comment Monday night.
The suit follows a wave of criticism during Harvey of the decision and timing of controlled releases of floodwaters from the dam, a public water supply source. Already the River Authority faces another lawsuit from hundreds of flooded Kingwood residents. Last week it was singled out by Houston Councilman Dave Martin, who represents Kingwood, for “hiding behind lawyers and press releases” in its operations during Harvey and subsequent responses to angry residents.
While the other suits have sought damages specifically related to Harvey, the action filed Monday seeks to compensate homeowners for at least 23 years worth of alleged mismanagement.
In an email Monday, Houston attorney Bradford Laney said he is seeking a “temporary and permanent injunction to make sure checks and balances are put into place” at the two agencies.
“We are fighters,” said Laney, who is also a plaintiff in the suit. “And we are not going to rest until the Water Board and SJRA are held accountable for the devastating floods they orchestrated.
“If we have learned anything in the past few months, it is that these entities are incapable of managing their responsibilities without supervision,” he said.
The River Authority has previously defended its decision to release record amounts of water from the dam during Harvey, and has said accusations that it was protecting certain people at the expense of others “both false and offensive.”
“There is no question that the flows from this event were…