Once a defunct golf course, Exploration Green is now a 200-acre urban green space providing the community with an innovative solution for their stormwater flooding and recreational needs.
Exploration Green provides five stormwater detention lakes that store 500 million gallons of water, 40 acres of wetlands, miles of walking and biking trails, athletic fields, and park space. Learn how the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA), Exploration Green Conservancy, and their partners are paying for and maintaining this project.
- Engage community members early and throughout. “A huge part of our success is that we went to the community and took the time to enlist their ideas, concerns, and needs,” shares John. “We built support, then asked for the money. We used town hall meetings to listen to community members' needs, concerns, and ideas for what this project could be. It was clear that the community didn’t want just a bunch of traditional stormwater ponds.” The input helped to develop the Exploration Green Master Plan.
- Talk about the benefits of the project beyond flood control. Exploration Green provides an impressive amount of flood water storage. And although this is the primary purpose of the detention facility, what people really get excited about are the hiking and biking paths, the open space, the birds, and native landscaping. The team knew early on that they needed to talk about the other benefits this detention facility would provide to people and the environment. One person told John, “Not only did my house not flood, I am getting my husband to exercise now thanks to Exploration Green.”
- Establish a volunteer program. Volunteers have put in over 9,000 hours. Church groups, civic groups, scouts, and families volunteer to take care of the nurseries, help communicate about the project, write proposals, and plan events. The volunteer program is the backbone of Exploration Green’s continued success and its ability to maintain this large project.
- Find both funding and financing opportunities. The project was successful because it used funding and financing opportunities. Their financial portfolio consists of water district bonds, local and state grants, volunteers, donations, and technical assistance.
- Be patient. It took six years to obtain the land. It took three and a half years to get the project permitted. However, they knew this was the right course of action and that it would protect many people from flooding and provide so many other benefits to the entire community.
- Use a project's multiple benefits to garner support for different funding sources. The Clear Lake City Water Authority was able to secure funding from a variety of local and state governments and businesses because they identified the project’s multiple benefits and how those fit with other organizations' missions. For example, the City of Houston Parks Department provided a grant for hiking and biking trails because of the recreational benefits Exploration Green provides the community.