Exploration Green gets $500,000 grant

May 2nd, 2019

The Clear Lake City Water Authority and Exploration Green Conservancy have been awarded a $500,000 grant to help in their joint effort to make the Clear Lake area a safer and more enjoyable place to live.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission recently awarded the grant to develop pedestrian trails, landscape and site restoration, and help fund installations of irrigation systems. Exploration Green received the People’s Choice Award for Urban Land Institute Development of Distinction, recognizing the Exploration Green Conservancy, a non-profit, for its conservation efforts and dedication to environmentalism and safety for all citizens in the Houston Bay Area.

Exploration Green was only on Phase 1 of 5 when Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston last year. It was estimated to have retained a 100 million gallons of water and prevented more than 100 homes from flooding in the surrounding neighborhoods. The second phase started this year and will add another pond, wetlands, trails, and 1,000 native trees.

Phase 2 should be completed by the end of 2019. Construction on Phases 3 and 4 will begin later this year and will be completed in 2020. The final Phase 5 will begin construction in 2020 and will be completed in 2021. When all five phases are complete, they will hold half a billion gallons of storm water.

The project utilizes natural infrastructure to protect our vulnerable community from imminent disasters. The purpose is to build a vital stormwater detention on a 200-acre recreation space to preserve the bay and surrounding areas. Exploration Green is a nature-based solution to prevent tragedies before disaster strikes and provide park recreation area for citizens and wildlife habitat. Last fall, Exploration Green was recognized by the Galveston Bay Foundation as its governmental “Guardian of the Bay.” It was also recognized with the National Disaster Resilience Award sponsored by Allied World Insurance and the National Wildlife Federation.

The wetlands implement man-made filtration systems for storm sewer runoff before it is released downstream. Recycled water systems are used to maintain clean water for aquatic life and wildlife, and utilized as a drought-proof water source for the community.

Funding for the construction of the detention ponds was approved by CLCWA voters in 2016. The Exploration Green Conservancy was created to engage the community in fundraising for all the amenities and coordinating volunteer support.

Frank Weary, chairman of the Exploration Green Conservancy, said, “The response from the community has been phenomenal with over 9,000 volunteer hours documented already. Fundraising has been a huge success and we continue to seek new grants and gifts to complete all five phases.”

Exploration Green is a great role model for sustainable development along the Gulf Coast, CLCWA President John Branch pointed out. “Policymakers must realize in order to maintain our precious Bay Area Houston community we need to be proactive and prioritize planning. Amenity funding has been graciously donated from groups such as Trees for Houston, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Galveston Bay Foundation, City of Houston, Texas Community Watershed Program, Space Center Rotary Club, and Harris County,” he added. Recently, a representative from FEMA visited the project for consideration as a national model for local flood control, Branch said.

Exploration Green at the Starting Blocks

July 1st, 2014

7-1 CLCWAThe Clear Lake City Water Authority plans to begin its Exploration Green project in the heart of Clear Lake as soon as state and local governments complete and issue the final necessary permits.

That decision came after a busy spring of public events and an election, when a vast majority of Clear Lake area citizens showed solid support for the Water Authority and the Exploration Green project to create the 200-acre flood control, recreation and conservation public space in Clear Lake.
With that support, current plans call for the project to begin in the Phase 1 area as soon as the necessary permits are issued.

The two candidates who endorsed Exploration Green, Gordon Johnson and Thomas Morrow, won by a three to one margin in the election to fill two seats on the CLCWA Board.

“The CLCWA election for two director positions was an invigorating win for Exploration Green and our community and we appreciate the large mandate to continue our efforts,” incumbent candidate Gordon Johnson said. “We want to focus on positive efforts to keep the public well-informed,” he added.

The other newly elected CLCWA director, Thomas Morrow, said, “We are both very humbled by the outpouring of support and voter turnout. We know the only way we can thank voters is by doing the best job we can to keep the promises we made to you: To work to assure that the water authority provides you with outstanding quality and service, to do so at the lowest possible cost, to protect our community from increased flooding, to ensure responsible growth, to plan for the future, and to conserve, even improve, our local environment.”

Some project opponents requested a public meeting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to discuss an important environmental permit amendment requested by CLCWA.  The amendment is needed to route a portion of reuse water to the green space to help wetlands clean run-off water from streets and lawns and maintain adequate flowing water through the lakes.

Even though the TCEQ states that the permit application by CLCWA meets all statutory and regulatory requirements, a TCEQ public meeting on May 29 was another opportunity for citizens to learn more about the master plan of Exploration Green.

“We hope with all the open transparency through Exploration Green Town Halls and events, and the CLCWA director’s campaign and decisive election, that we’ll quickly receive the permits needed to begin Phase 1,” said CLCWA Vice President John Branch.

Frank Weary, longtime Clear Lake community leader and Exploration Green Conservancy chairman, added, “The number of Exploration Green supporters and volunteers continues to rapidly grow. Our biggest challenge is building our organizational structure and placing volunteers into key positions and committees – a  hint for all interested in getting connected. Go to our website and join the volunteer team now!”

Citizens, community members and interested parties are encouraged to follow Exploration Green via any of its social media platforms. EG is active on Facebook at “Exploration Green.” The public is also encouraged to visit the current Exploration Green site by entering the V-shaped property at intersections with streets found by searching for “77062”on Google maps.

For more information about Exploration Green project visit www.ExplorationGreen.org and http://clcwa.org/explorationgreen.html

Bay Area Houston Magazine