Phases 1 and 2 are connected so stormwater drains from Phase 2 to Phase 1. Exploration Green now has about 200 million gallons of stormwater detention capacity, per the release. The Phase 2 hike-and-bike trails are also finished and available for community use, and practice scheduling will begin soon on Exploration Green’s athletic fields.
When finished, the project will protect 2,000 to 3,000 surrounding homes from flooding during storms. No known flooding beyond minor street flooding is believed to have occurred during Tropical Depression Imelda that hit the area in September, per the release.
Exploration Green’s partnerships with community organizations have helped tremendously with the project’s progress, Clear Lake City Water Authority President John Branch said. One of these partnerships is with the University of Houston-Clear Lake, which he said is providing land for use in growing trees before the trees are transferred to the Exploration Green Conservancy. Trees for Houston donated 600 additional trees to the on-site tree nursery on Phase 5 to help continue the "pipeline" of native trees available for planting, per the release.
The release details the various efforts made in 2019, including more than 100 volunteers planting about 250 trees and shrubs along parts of the Phase 2 area. Exploration Green also received six regional and national recognition awards in 2019, including a Houston-Galveston Area Council award in the Excellence category.
In addition to the construction progress, the conservancy and its partner organizations expect to plant trees along the northeast section of Phase 2 and plant hundreds, possibly thousands, of wetland plants in the Phase 2 detention pond, per the release. Exploration Green is accepting bench and tree donations for Phases 2-5.
Phase 2 initially fell behind because it was discovered the project’s proximity to Ellington Airport violated Houston ordinance. The Airport Board of Adjustment granted the project a variance for work to resume in September 2018. The first part of Phase 3, which was split in two by the Harris County Flood Control District, is under construction and is approximately 20% complete, according to the release.
Excavation for Phase 4 is expected to begin by mid-2020. Phase 4 construction will begin once the city of Houston completes and issues the permits and the Clear Lake City Water Authority completes the contracting process, per the release. The fifth and final phase is expected to start this summer and be complete by the end of 2021, Branch said.