The Luce Bayou project dates back to the late 1930s, when visionary Houston leaders realized the need to identify water sources for future Houstonians. Like fortune-tellers, they gazed into their crystal ball and saw people flocking to the city by the bay in search of the American dream. They realized that the water they were pumping from underground sources would not satisfy the appetite of future generations, and that waiting 20, 30 or even 50 years to find other water sources could mean real problems for their successors. They looked north, south, east and west for options.

The saltwater to the southeast in Galveston Bay was plentiful, but expensive to convert to drinking water, and there was the issue of pumping it uphill to where it was needed. Nearby rivers flowing from places north had potential. The San Jacinto River and its two “forks” flowed directly through Harris County on their winding pathways to Galveston Bay. The Trinity River to the east had potential also.

The planets started to align when former Houston Mayor Richard H. Fonville wrote a personal check to purchase the land that is now Lake Houston during his 1937-38 term in office. Next, the city acquired water rights in both rivers, and by 1973 had created three reservoirs – Lake Conroe on the San Jacinto River’s West Fork in north Montgomery County, Lake Houston on the San Jacinto River’s East Fork in northeast Harris County, and Lake Livingston on the Trinity River near Huntsville. Wayne Klotz, the Coastal Water Authority’s board president, said the Luce Bayou project is the culmination of that 80-year effort to provide water to the Houston region.