Jessie Ritter is the director of water and coastal resources policy at the National Wildlife Federation, and an author of a new report that shows when weather and climate-driven hazard events occur, natural infrastructure has proven just as effective - and sometimes, more effective - than traditional infrastructure.
Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam in National Engineering Competition
Storm Water Solutions, 03/27/2020
Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN) has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 53rd annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for its role in the first phase of the Clear Lake City Water Authority’s Exploration Green project in Houston, Texas.
Exploration Green provides nature center in practical space
Community Impact Newspaper, 03/04/2020
Exploration Green, the Clear Lake City Water Authority’s project to turn a former golf course into a detention pond that will eventually hold 500 million gallons of stormwater, began as a drainage facility with added amenities. Now, the project is viewed as a nature conservatory that also helps drain stormwater, Exploration Green Conservancy Chair Frank Weary said.
Clear Lake City Water Authority completes Phase 2 of Exploration Green
Community Impact Newspaper, 01/16/2020
The second of five phases is complete in Exploration Green, Clear Lake City Water Authority’s project to turn a former golf course into a pond that will eventually hold 500 million gallons of stormwater, according to a news release.
ACEC Texas Awards Gold Medal to LAN for Clear Lake Flood Control Project
HOUSTON NOV 25, 2019 --The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Texas awarded civil engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN) a gold medal for its work on the first phase of the Clear Lake flood control project in Harris County. The award, given under the water resources category, will be presented during the ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Awards Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston on March 30, 2020.
ACEC Texas Awards Gold Medal to LAN for Clear Lake Flood Control Project
civil + structural ENGINEER media, 11/22/2019
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Texas awarded civil engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. (LAN) a gold medal for its work on the first phase of the Clear Lake flood control project in Harris County. The award, given under the water resources category, will be presented during the ACEC Texas Engineering Excellence Awards Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston on March 30, 2020.
Saturday: 500 free trees available in The Market at Springwoods Village
Houston Chronicle, 11/14/2019
...Trees may not be the “be-all-end-all” solution to Houston flooding, but they can help mitigate, said Katherine Bravo Newton, projects director at Trees for Houston. She described a project in which Trees for Houston participated — Exploration Green, a detention pond in a flood-prone area near Clear Lake.
“It used to be a golf course,” Newton said. “They, over the years in phases, have been replanting trees in this area so that it didn’t turn into development like any sort of apartment of town homes or things like that. So, instead of laying down a slab on concrete, they’ve turned it into a high-functioning green space. Due to that — that adding in of more trees and less concrete saved some of those houses from flooding.”
Tonight’s ‘Glow’ event a trick-or-treating opportunity at Exploration Green
Houston Chronicle Bay Area Citizen, 10/25/2019
As a fun, spooky way to showcase ongoing development at the Exploration Green greenspace and drainage detention facility, the conservancy for the facility is sponsoring a “Glow the Green” event tonight that will feature lantern-lit pathways, tours and trick-or-treat stations for children.
Set from 6-8 p.m. and also featuring Ritter’s Food Truck, Exploration Green Conservancy’s event at the park, at 16203 Diana Lane, celebrates ongoing development there. A walking trail developed during Phase 1 of work at the park will be illuminated, and guided tours will be available.
Exploration Green wins Houston-Galveston Area Council award
Community Impact Newspaper, 10/22/2019
Exploration Green, a yearslong project to turn a Clear Lake golf course into a detention pond, has won a Houston-Galveston Area Council award, according to an Oct. 21 press release.
H-GAC gave the Exploration Green Conservancy an Our Great Region Award in the Excellence category. Our Great Region Awards recognize outstanding organizations making the 13-county region that makes up H-GAC a better place to live and work. The Excellence award is the highest tier of awards H-GAC offers for projects that advance H-GAC’s decadeslong plan to proposer the region, the release reads.
Despite hiccups, Exploration Green on track for late 2021 completion
Community Impact Newspaper, 06/20/2019
A couple snags and the weather have delayed the construction of Exploration Green, but the project is making good progress, Clear Lake City Water Authority officials said.
Exploration Green is a former golf course that is now a detention pond located between El Camino Real, Bay Area Boulevard and Space Center Boulevard. Once fully built, the pond will hold 500 million gallons of stormwater, protecting an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 homes from flooding. The project includes tree and wetland nurseries that will be used to fill Exploration Green with plants and wildlife as it is constructed.
Phase 1 is complete, and residents are using its trails regularly. Phase 2, which was originally estimated to be finished this spring, is about 70% complete, CLCWA General Manager Jennifer Morrow said.
Houston’s Exploration Green Honored with NWF-Allied World Resilience Award
National Wildlife Federation, 11/18/2018 (Press Release)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Recognizing a best-in-class example of using natural infrastructure to protect vulnerable communities, Houston’s Exploration Green is being honored with the National Wildlife Federation-Allied World Resilience Award. National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara and Allied World President and CEO Scott Carmilani are presenting the inaugural award to the Clear Lake City Water Authority at the 2018 National Disaster Resilience Conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, hosted by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.
Located in Houston’s Clear Lake City, Exploration Green is converting a former golf course into a 200-acre urban wetland and natural habitat. The project’s first phase acted as a sponge during Hurricane Harvey, protecting residents and their homes from potentially deadly flooding. Construction is divided into five phases and is set to be completed in 2021, ultimately creating retention ponds and wetlands, wildlife habitat, trails for recreation and commuting, and athletic fields.
Work to resume at golf-course turned reservoir Exploration Green after pond construction delay
Houston Chronicle, 10/03/2018
After a month-long delay because of a Houston regulation regarding construction of ponds near airports, the way has been cleared for work to resume to add flood detention capability at Exploration Green, a former golf course near El Camino Real and El Dorado Boulevard in Clear Lake.
Construction of Phase 2 at Exploration Green, a joint effort by Clear Lake City Water Authority and the nonprofit Exploration Green Conservancy, halted in late August because a city ordinance says any detention reservoir within 3.5 miles of an airport in the city must be a “dry-bottom pond” that drains within 72 hours of filling. The ordinance stems from Federal Aviation Administration guidelines that consider birds attracted to ponds that continually contain water are a potential flight hazard to nearby aircraft, and Ellington Airport is less than 3 miles away.
Could You Stop Chronic Flooding by Repurposing a Golf Course?
Public Works, 09/24/2018
Six years. That’s how long a Texas water authority battled redevelopers to turn a 178-acre golf course into a 500-million-gallon stormwater reservoir. Seven years after that victory, authority managers celebrated another: unveiling the first phase of a five-phase master plan to add 1,680 acre-feet of storage to Houston’s detention facilities.
Actually, they scored a victory before Phase 1 ribbon-cutting in March 2018. The project was 80% complete when Hurricane Harvey dumped 40 inches on the city, but that was enough to save 150 houses from flooding. Suddenly, there was enough political will to deliver a 15-year plan in five years. When finished in 2021, Exploration Green will protect 2,000 homes to 3,000 homes near the Horsepen Bayou flood plain.
It is not just the county looking for solutions; at least one local entity is getting creative, finding inventive ways to combat flooding.
The Clear Lake City Water Authority—an entity responsible for water, sewage and drainage in Clear Lake City and surrounding areas before Houston annexed the municipality—has already seen results from a $30.5 million project it set in motion in 2011.
“Because we’re small, we can do a lot of things big entities can’t do or won’t do,” authority board President John Branch said.
Once a golf course, Exploration Green—which is located between El Camino Real, Bay Area Boulevard and Space Center Boulevard—is now a detention pond that water drains into during storms, helping to protect an estimated 150 homes from flooding during Harvey, Branch said.
Exploration Green Receives 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award
Stormwater Solutions, 07/25/2018
Exploration Green Nature Park in Clear Lake City, Texas, received the 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award through the U.S. EPA and the National Assn. of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA). The wetlands in Exploration Green were designed to detain and slow floodwaters and clean the runoff from 95% of the storms that occur in the community. Additional provisions were added for a walking trail, lake, wetlands areas and other features.
The award was announced earlier this month at the NAFSMA annual conference in Santa Fe, N.M. The Green Infrastructure Awards Program was designed to recognize and spotlight storm water management projects throughout the country that are advancing and innovating green storm water infrastructure techniques.
Exploration Green receives 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award
Agrilife TODAY, 07/23/2018
HOUSTON – A multifaceted project to help reduce flooding and provide recreation for thousands of residents of Clear Lake City has received the 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award.
Texas A&M AgriLife entities have been major participants in developing Exploration Green Nature Park, located about a mile from the Johnson Space Center. Exploration Green was selected to receive the award through the 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure awards program. The program is a partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, or NAFSMA.
Exploration Green draws big crowd for grand opening
Bay Area Houston Magazine, 06/01/2018
An estimated 1,000 Bay Area residents were on hand to celebrate the long awaited grand opening of Exploration Green — the 200-acre green park developed at 16205 Diana Lane to save Clear Lake City homes and businesses from flooding during heavy rains.
As elected officials, community leaders, families and community groups gathered for the historic occasion, several who had worked on the project for a number of years — Clear Lake City Water Authority President John Branch and Vice President Bob Savely, Exploration Green Conservancy Chairman Frank Weary, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, State Rep. Dennis Paul, Jordan McGinty, representing Houston City Council Dave Martin, and CLCWA Director Gordon Johnson — officially opened Exploration Green with a tree planting ceremony.
Houston-area flood-mitigation, green space project finishes first phase
Houston Business Journal, 04/20/2018
The first phase of a Clear Lake City flood-mitigation project is complete, and construction on the second phase will begin soon.
Exploration Green — which is redeveloping a roughly 200-acre golf course — finished the first of five detention ponds and park area in March, a spokesperson for the project said. To celebrate, a grand opening event will be held April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the project’s website. Above, check out photos of the project.
“The purpose (of the event) is to encourage the public to come see how the project protects (the surrounding area) from flooding and provides new green space for the public,” said John Branch, the board president of Clear Lake City Water Authority, one of the major partners in the project.
In the Houston suburb of Clear Lake, an almost 200-acre nature park called Exploration Green is underway, complete with wetland preserves and at least six miles of hike-and-bike trails. But what makes it special is the park’s primary function of mitigating flooding for the community through its five detention basins.
The recreation and detention site, once the Clear Lake City Golf Course, has been part of the community for more than 50 years. With increased development in the surrounding area in recent years, the old methods of managing runoff — outdated drainage channels — didn’t hold up.
The Suburban Golf Course, Reconsidered For The Age Of Climate Change
Fast Company, 02/27/2018
Less than four years ago, the golf course at the center of Clear Lake City, Texas, looked like any other suburban golf course, with vast tracts of meticulously manicured lawns stretched across 178 acres of rolling hills. Golf courses are one of the least sustainable uses of urban green space, and like any of the thousands of golf courses scattered throughout the U.S.—which make up a whopping 45% of golf courses worldwide—Clear Lake City’s required an inordinate amount of water for maintenance and upkeep. But today, the golf course is something else entirely: a glimpse at the future of climate change resilience.
How this small Houston community survived Hurricane Harvey when other parts didn’t
USA Today, 01/19/2018
HOUSTON — A small thunderstorm three years ago pushed more than a foot of floodwater into Stan Cook’s home in the small community of Clear Lake, ruining old home movies, destroying kitchen cabinets and causing more than $130,000 in damage.
So when Hurricane Harvey dropped biblical amounts of rain on the region in August, he braced for the worst. Yet, only an inch of water crept into his Reseda Drive home, soaking carpets but not much else.
Clear Lakes's former golf course-turned reservoir holds up under Harvey
Houston Chronicle/Bay Area Citizen, 12/08/2017
Post Hurricane Harvey, residents and activists who fought to transform Clear Lake City's 178-acre golf course from a recreational tract to a detention pond were proved justified in their plan to protect the area from flooding.The suburb handled floodwaters better than most because of the repurposing of the former golf course.
The W-shaped reservoir is bounded by Reseda Drive on the north, Ramada Drive to the south and Diana Lane on the eastern edge. The project is a joint effort by Clear Lake City Water Authority and Exploration Green Conservancy, a nonprofit composed of active Clear Lake City area residents who want to see conservation, environmentalism and sustainable flood-measures in their area.
A golf course built more than 50 years ago has become the solution for flooding and drainage issues for the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA) in Houston.
Developed in the 1960s, the 178-acre golf course was a popular community amenity. The property is located between multiple subdivisions and is lined by residences. Even after the golf course closed, the residents continue to use the old golf cart paths for walking and jogging.
In 2005, when the owner decided to sell the property, local developers expressed interest in turning the golf course into a massive commercial development. With the community already experiencing drainage issues due to increased runoff from growth and development over the previous decades, drainage control was a high priority in the area, so residents approached the CLCWA, the local provider of water, sewage and drainage services. After hearing their concerns, in 2011, CLCWA purchased the golf course for $6.2 million and decided to convert it into a series of detention ponds to improve storm water management in the area.
Reclaiming golf courses could help Houston fight the next Hurricane Harvey
Washington Post, 11/27/2017
Like many parts of Houston, Clear Lake City has a history of flooding. The area got an unexpected break when Hurricane Harvey dumped record rainfall,thanks to its decision years ago to sacrifice one of its golf courses to flood control.
After 12 years of planning, crews in November completed the first of five construction phases of Exploration Green. Three months ago Harvey gave the budding project its first trial, and planners say it saved 150 homes from inundation.
In search of a flood fix, one Houston community turned to a golf course
The Texas Tribune, 11/17/2017
HOUSTON — In 50 years living in Clear Lake City, Spyros Varsos had never seen the floodwater get so high. During a historic rainstorm two years ago, he watched anxiously as it quickly accumulated in the street outside his three-bedroom home. So this summer when even heavier rains drenched the greater Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, he was even more fearful.
But his home didn’t flood. For that, he credits some precautions he took of his own, like clearing debris from the drains on his street. What he said made an even bigger difference, though, was a nearby flood control project that wasn't even completed yet.
When the sun came back out, much of Houston and the surrounding area was in ruins. The storm destroyed between 30,000 to 40,000 homes, waterlogged around around a half-million cars, and damaged power lines for thousands of people. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now spearheading $50 billion in relief efforts after Harvey and other devastating hurricanes that hit Florida, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands this summer.
Scientists say that climate change will only continue to make storms more destructive. At the same time, the Trump administration has seemed reluctant to discuss America's contribution to global warming. Nevertheless, flood-prone cities like Houston are increasingly searching for ways to make themselves less vulnerable for the next inevitable hurricane.
Exploration Green protected from commercial development forever
Houston Chronicle – Bay Area, 10/20/2014
After nearly a decade of working to fulfill a vision of a Clear Lake public green space to alleviate flooding, foster nature conservation, clean run-off water and provide recreation opportunities, the Clear Lake City Water Authority has signed a Conservation Easement agreement with the Galveston Bay Foundation to conserve and protect the nearly 200 acres of the Exploration Green from commercial development in perpetuity. That means forever.
Clear Lake area residents and visitors will soon start noticing changes in the community’s new 200-acre green space, Exploration Green. A flood detention, conservation, environmental enhancement and recreation area, already being recognized for its award-winning design, Exploration Green (EG) is progressing through planning stages and reaching a number of important milestones in the New Year.
Tree and Wetland Nurseries Open House at Exploration Green Saturday, Oct 4
The public is invited to an Open House for the Tree and Wetland Nurseries at Exploration Green, Saturday October 4, 9am-12pm held jointly by Exploration Green Conservancy, Trees for Houston, the Texas Coastal Watershed Program and Clear Lake City Water Authority. Tours will be offered and information provided about the nurseries which are growing trees and plants for the conservation and recreation area in Clear Lake area.
After months of maps and power-point projections, Exploration Green took a more tangible step Saturday at its first on-site event in Clear Lake.The Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA) held the official ground breaking ceremony at 16205 Diana Lane for the redevelopment project on the property of the former golf course.The community event marked the official beginning of Phase I of the green space/flood detention project and provided family-friendly festivities on the eve of Earth Day.
Houston-Galveston Area Council awards Clear Lake’s Exploration Green
Houston Chronicle - Bay Area, 01/21/2014
Exploration Green and the Clear Lake City Water Authority were awarded the 2013 Planning Award by the Houston-Galveston Area Council last week, approved by the H-GAC board chaired by Houston Judge Ed Emmett. The influential government planning organization ranked the local partners’ planning for the Clear Lake green space at the top of nine public space development plans across the Houston region.
Exploration Green received the Parks and Natural Areas Award for the comprehensive planning of the flood control, recreation and conservation area in the Clear Lake area. H-GAC commended the local water authority’s leadership, stating the project serves as a model for other projects in H-GAC’s 13 county region.
The creation of parkland, trails and natural areas along our bayous will help protect and perserve water quality, natural habitat and native wildlife while at the same time promoting the overall health and welfare of the city.
Clear Lake's Exploration Green gets award from Keep Houston Beautiful
Houston Chronicle – Bay Area, 11/11/2013
In recognition of the Clear Lake City Water Authority's "tremendous efforts on behalf of our city", Keep Houston Beautiful honored Exploration Green flood control, conservation and recreation project with a special Certificate of Recognition from Mayor Annise Parker's 2013 Proud Partners Program and Keep Houston Beautiful at a recent ceremony. CLCWA Vice President John Branch and Frank Weary, chairman of the Exploration Green Conservancy, accepted the award.
Exploration Green takes steps closer to green space
Houston Chronicle, 10/25/2013
The nearly 200 acres of the former golf course in Clear Lake will soon be a green space designed to significantly decrease flooding in surrounding residential areas. Since buying the property in 2011, The Clear Lake City Water Authority is taking the next step in creating a water detention area and green space that will feature park amenities such as bike and hike trails and a haven for area wild life.
Exploration Green: A new star in the Clear Lake area
Houston Chronicle – Bay Area, 08/26/2013
A new star is forming in the Clear Lake area where families of space explorers, oil explorers, and knowledge explorers will discover nearly 200 acres of green space available for recreation and much-needed flood control. The Clear Lake City Water Authority, supported by numerous partners, is creating a world-class flood detention system based on the analyses of experts in the field and a new green space in the heart of the Clear Lake, designed by conservancy professionals to shine like other beautiful new parks. The dual-use area will be named “Exploration Green,” akin to downtown Houston’s hugely successful Discovery Green.
GBF Awarded Accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission
Galveston Bay Foundation
GBF is excited to announce that after an extensive evaluation, we have been awarded accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. GBF is among 230 land trusts from across the country, including seven in Texas, that have been awarded accreditation since the fall of 2008. Since its establishment in 1987, GBF has conserved over 3,300 acres of coastal habitat through property acquisitions and conservation easements and is working to substantially increase acreage conserved in the coming year.