Residents, AgriLife Extension, others work to ‘Harvey-proof’ Houston-area community

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, working with area residents, the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA) and Exploration Green Conservancy, have been collaborating to transform an about-to-be paved golf course into a new kind of nature park that provides recreation while protecting thousands of homes from flooding caused by natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey.

“We were involved in an innovative overhaul of a slated-for-development golf course in Clear Lake City, helping repurpose it into a green space with water detention areas and places for recreational activities,” said Dr. John Jacob, AgriLife Extension specialist with the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Jacob said the resulting plan was for a new nature park, Exploration Green, designed to detain and slow floodwaters and clean the runoff from 95 percent of the storms that occur in the area. Additional provisions were added for a walking trail, lake, wetlands areas and other features.

Jacob said the 178-acre golf course ran alongside large drainage ditches constructed by the original developer, providing a perfect setting for accommodating additional floodwater detention volume.

“The first phase of Exploration Green was about 80 percent completed when Hurricane Harvey hit, and the detention area held enough stormwater runoff that even houses that habitually flooded with 5-inch to 10-inch storms didn’t flood with the 45 or so inches that came with Harvey.”

AgriLife Extension has continued to participate by leading the way in the design and integration of stormwater wetlands into the overall plan, he said.

“This is a great example of residents, water management agencies and others working together to save an important green space for recreation and to do so in such a way that it serves a vital environmental purpose that also helps improve the quality of life within that community,” Jacob said. “Other flood-prone communities in the metropolitan Houston area have shown interest in implementing this type of project, and we have also had inquiries from other states.”

The full AgriLife Today article can be found here.

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