Clear Lake City Water Authority finishes work on Phase 2 of Exploration Green

Phase 2 of Exploration Green features a 26.2-acre detention pond, 18 acres of natural habitat with wetlands and 1.3 miles of trails. (Courtesy of LAN)
Phase 2 of Exploration Green features a 26.2-acre detention pond, 18 acres of natural habitat with wetlands and 1.3 miles of trails. (Courtesy of LAN)

Phase 2 of Exploration Green features a 26.2-acre detention pond, 18 acres of natural habitat with wetlands and 1.3 miles of trails. (Courtesy of LAN)

Clear Lake City Water Authority completed work on the second phase of Exploration Green, a 178-acre former golf course turned stormwater detention pond between El Camino Real, Bay Area Boulevard and Space Center Boulevard, according to a Sept. 30 media release.

Exploration Green was named in honor of the community’s local exploration legacy and its proximity to Johnson Space Center, per the release. Once finished, the conservancy will protect 2,000 to 3,000 surrounding homes from flooding in 12 to 15 inches of rain, leaders said.

National planning, engineering and program management firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. is the project’s design engineer. CLCWA, the local provider of water, sewage collection and treatment, and storm drainage services, partners with Exploration Green to develop and preserve the nonprofit’s green spaces.

“With the recently completed Phase 2 undergoing a test from Tropical Storm Beta, it was a great indicator to see how well Phase 1 and 2 integrated together,” Jennifer Morrow, CLCWA’s general manager, said in the release. “This opportunity to provide retrofitted detention to a community previously struggling with drainage has been a huge benefit so far, and we are looking forward to completing the entire project.”

Upon the project's completion, detention ponds and wetland areas will take up about 8 acres per phase, or just under 40 total acres. There will be five large detention ponds that can each hold 100 million gallons of stormwater, per the release—the equivalent of 750 Olympic-sized swimming pools.



Aside from stormwater drainage, the conservancy will also serve as a nature park, with 6 miles of walking and biking trails, two athletic fields available for use by local sports teams, and wetlands and native grassland areas, per the release.

The second phase of the project features a 26.2-acre detention pond, 18 acres of natural habitat with wetlands, and 1.3 miles of trails. About 90% of the work on Phase 2 was finished in January, but the turf establishment of native grasses signaled its completion, LAN officials said. The first phase, which was completed in April 2018, included a 23.7-acre detention pond, 15.2 acres of natural habitat with wetlands and 1.25 miles of trails, per the release.


Exploration Green's amenities are funded entirely by grants and donations. In total, the project will cost between $40 million-$50 million to complete. The last piece of the puzzle will be an entry plaza on Phase 1 estimated to cost between $1.5 million-$2 million, Chair Frank Weary told Community Impact Newspaper in March. Once it is completed, nearly 70% of the 40,000 people living in the Clear Lake area will be within walking distance of Exploration Green, and the remaining people will be less than a mile from one of the phases, per the release.

The on-site nursery where plants are kept is maintained by volunteers, who play an integral part in planting trees and shrubs during the late fall and early spring. Planting should be completed by the end of 2022, Weary said in March.

During Hurricane Harvey, although only 80% of the Phase 1 pond was excavated at the time of the storm, it helped detain 100 million gallons of water, protecting at least 150 homes from flooding. Tropical Storm Imelda had minimal impact on the community the following year, and the project had no trouble withstanding Tropical Storm Beta, per the release.

The project has already played a major part in revitalizing home values in an area that was previously experiencing economic decline, per the release. Given that the conservancy protects homes from flooding, property values have subsequently increased, and flood insurance costs have dropped. Data from Paige Martin of Keller Williams Realty shows the price per square foot of Clear Lake-area homes went from $9 in 2016 to $17 in 2017, then $28 in 2018.

“Communities throughout Texas are looking for ways to mitigate major flooding events like Harvey, Imelda and Beta,” said Wayne Swafford, LAN’s president, in the release. “Exploration Green is transforming Clear Lake from a flood-prone community into one of the most flood-resilient communities in Texas. In addition, it is creating a healthy, sustainable neighborhood for its residents.”

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

Mayor Turner and the honor guard.
Houston joins nationwide coronavirus memorial, lights landmarks

The memorial was planned as a component of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' inauguration.

If the park becomes a hub, it would join two others currently established in the county: One is at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston, and the other hub is at the Galveston County Health District. The health district will offered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to those 65 years of age and older by appointment only after receiving 1,000 additional doses; appointments were filled within hours. (Eva Vigh/Community Impact Newspaper)
NEW: League City's Walter Hall Park closed to become potential mass vaccination site

Two other vaccine hubs are currently established in Galveston County, neither of which are offering new vaccine appointments the week of Jan. 18.

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas hosted a webinar Jan. 19 to discuss increasing funding and accessibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the 87th legislative session.

Bay Area-based company Intuitive Machines has selected SpaceX as the company that will deliver two of its payloads to the moon, according to a Jan. 13 press release. (Courtesy Intuitive Machines)
Bay Area aerospace company selects SpaceX as vehicle to moon

Bay Area-based company Intuitive Machines has selected SpaceX as the company that will deliver two of its payloads to the moon, according to a Jan. 13 press release.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

Houston City Hall aerial view
Houston City Council ethics committee to review speech policies

The discussion comes after Facebook posts by Council Member Greg Travis led to calls for his resignation or censure.

For the next few months, League City City Council will hold meetings at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center because the council chambers next door are under renovation. (Courtesy city of League City)
League City council chambers under renovation

For the next few months, League City City Council will hold meetings at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center because the council chambers next door are under renovation.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Bocca Italian Kitchen serves seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes, such as polenta and various pastas. (Courtesy Marco Torres)
Italian eateries open in Generation Park; Houston bike lane fines enforced and more local news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Minute Maid Park
Houston Health Department vaccine appointments fill up in 16 minutes

The department will administer 5,000 doses at Minute Maid Park on Jan. 16 and 17.