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Golf courses against flooding

The Washington Post looks at how Clear Lake made it through Harvey.

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.

“It held the water like a champ,” said Doug Peterson, a retired NASA employee and 30-year Clear Lake City resident who helps lead the community effort to turn the 178-acre former golf course into a combination wetland park and floodwater reservoir. “This project is a model for other areas where we’ve had these massive rains.”

When Exploration Green is completed in 2021, it will drain up to half a billion gallons of storm water and protect up to 3,000 homes, officials say.

While Houston struggles to develop a more robust regional drainage system, Exploration Green shows how a local community can claim land for local flood control. Planners have turned from the concrete basins of the past and look instead to existing green space to drain floods.

“Its being a golf course made construction really easy,” said Kelly Shipley, project manager for Exploration Green and an engineer with LAN, Inc. “You can just dig a hole, essentially.”

The greater Houston area has its share of golf courses as well, and this idea has been suggested as one tool in the box of flood mitigation. I’m not sure who gets to decide which golf courses would be better used as detention ponds, but to the extent that it makes sense to do, I’m fine with it.

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  1. neither here nor there says:

    See which ones are willing to sell, there are two golf courses within 4 miles of Meyerland, one is across from Fondren Southwest, the other is across the bayou from Sterling McCall Toyota, adjacent to the Southwest Frwy.

    Then again if the county was really interested in flood control they would not have the low tax rate on the Flood Control District.

    Ed Emmett is now acting like he cares, it is a little late to be saying that you care, he has been there for 10 years.

  2. voter_worker says:

    The unique factor in this project is the involvement of the Clear Lake City Water Authority working in tandem with a private group, the Exploration Green Conservancy. The portion of Houston within its jurisdiction has a status unlike any other part of the city. There are random golf courses all over our region; another one just up the road from Clear Lake City is being converted into a botanical garden. The jurisdictions they are in are “who gets to decide” whether they are reclaimed for flood mitigation, or given up to market forces. Describing Exploration Green as a “detention pond” would be minimizing the creative flood mitigation solution devised by the rather imaginative and persistent people that have made it happen.