Awards, Etc.

Exploration Green Detention Facility

Exploration Green was created for the primary purpose of detention by retrofitting nearly 200 acres of a former golf course open green space in to a series of detention ponds. When local developers expressed interest in turning the area in to a massive commercial development, residents in the community approached the CLCWA Board of Directors.

After engineers and hydrologists reviewed the feasibility of the idea the presented by the Board of Directors, voters approved bond funding, and the property was purchased. While the primary intent was for detention, it was recognized that the area could be a multi-purpose space used and enjoyed by the community.

A series of town hall meetings were held for public input which helped guide a masterplan layout created by SWA Architects which included ADA accessible trails, native trees and grasses, benches, and other amenities. The original masterplan document can be found here. Construction was divided up into Phases 1A, 1B, 1C, 2, 3A, 3B, 4, and 5.

Phase 1 map

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Phase 2 map

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Phase 3A map

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Phase 3B map

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Phase 4 map

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Phase 5 map

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Master Plan

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Latest Update

3/1/2022: Phases 1, 2, 3A, and 4 are complete. Phase 3A and 4 will have trees planted during the cooler months from November through February for a few seasons. Please stay off the grass in Phases 3A and 4. Native grasses take time to grow and staying off it until it is well established will give it a better chance to thrive.

Phase 3B is under construction now and estimated to be finished in Fall of 2022, pending weather delays. We are asking for the public's cooperation to not enter the construction zone at any time. This area is located in the Oakbrook West subdivision and is bordered by Diana, Torry Pines, and Penn Hills. Please be extra cautious of pedestrians and trucks hauling dirt if traveling in the area.

The former tree nursery on Phase 5 has been relocated to the Bay Area and Seakale area in anticipation of Phase 5 starting construction soon. The Phase 5 contract has been awarded, but due to material and supply chain issues it, construction is expected to be delayed until April 2022.

See past updates

Past Updates

  • 10/21/21: Phase 4 should be finished Fall 2021. Phase 3B utilities are being marked, and construction will begin in late October 2021. Phase 5 has been approved for construction permits. 5/12/2021: Exploration Green Phase 4 construction is about 70% complete. Trails are being installed, the spillway structure near Neptune is in progress. The hauling off dirt is almost complete. Please do not access this construction zone area at any time. 8/21/2020: Exploration Green Phase 4 construction is underway and the original truck hauling traffic plan needs an adjustment. Starting today trucks will be following the new plan. It might take a few days to get all of the drivers notified, but the contractor is working on it. Please see the Phase 4 Traffic Plan link above for a further explanation and maps.

    8/10/2020: Phase 3A is nearing completion and will be open to the public soon. The contractor has some minor site grading work left and then native grass planting. The Exploration Green Conservancy will start planting trees this fall when the weather cools off. To give newly planted native grass the best chance to grow, please stay on the trails and off the grass areas. We are anticipating this section to open to the public in September 2020.

    Phase 4 is beginning construction as of 7/27/2020 and officially closed to the public while under construction. This section borders Fairwind, Neptune, Ramada, and Reseda. There will be some daily street closures on Neptune and 1-2 uniformed peace officers directing traffic and for pedestrian safety. Please be extra cautious when in the area.

    Phases 3B and 5 will be last and both expected to start construction in 2021.
  • (4/19/2020): Short Term Closure of Exploration Green Phase 2
    Phase 2 (bordering the El Dorado, Diana, Reseda, Torry Pines block) will be temporarily closed to the public for construction modifications starting Wednesday, April 22, 2020 and anticipated to be re-opened in Summer 2020. Heavy construction equipment and personnel will be working to replace an unexpected sandy layer of dirt causing bank erosion and stability concerns. We understand the timing isn't ideal for the large numbers of the public currently enjoying the area, but these repairs must be done before hurricane season starts so the maximum storm water detention storage capacity is available if needed. Your patience and support are appreciated.

    Phase 3A is well underway with construction. Most of the heavy dirt hauling should be complete by the end of the summer or early fall. Please standby for the official temporary closure date announcement.
  • 11/10/2019: Phase 1 has been completed. Phase 2 is wrapping up construction and expected to be ready for tree planting by December 2019. Phase 3A is starting construction on Monday, November 11, 2019. Please be aware of sidewalk and road lane closures in the area on El Dorado between Torry Pines and Diana. Phase 4 is in the permitting process and projected to start construction around the first of the year 2020. Phases 5 and 3B will be last, and the order has not been finalized.
  • Cities along Clear Creek look at new rainfall intensity data
  • Despite hiccups, Exploration Green on track for late 2021 completion
  • Stories to follow in 2019: Bay Area continues fight against flooding
  • (2/13/19) Phase 1 construction is complete and Phase 2 is well under way. Phase 3 is scheduled to start construction in the late spring. We will post more updates soon, but for now we are happy to announce the Exploration Green won an award from the Urban Land Institute. A Facebook video of the nomination is available here.
  • (3/7/2017) Phase 1A and 1B are now complete. 1A currently has mix of Texas native grasses growing. Phase 1B has a wildflower mix planted for erosion control that is just starting to grow. The Texas native grass seed mix will be planted at 1B later this year when the temperature warms up. The Exploration Green Conservancy will have planted over 200 trees and plants by the end of March in 1A and 1B. Various species of birds have returned to the area.
  • (3/7/2017) 1C is the final phase of development in this area and will be starting construction soon. Depending on rain delays, we are projecting 1C to be finished by Fall 2017. To view the phase 1 construction layout please see map . To view the entire plan please see the CLCWA Master Plan (PDF file).
  • CLCWA’s amended discharge permit from the TCEQ was officially approved in September 2016. The amended permit document can be viewed here.

The Exploration Green Conservancy, Inc. (EGC) has been formed and incorporated to develop, preserve and protect the land known as Exploration Green (EG).

EGC is dedicated to creating, maintaining and operating the habitat restoration and recreation facilities within Exploration Green while concurrently supporting the use of the area for storm water detention in order to:

  • enhance the quality of life and outdoor experience for residents in the greater Bay Area;
  • provide abundant natural habitat areas for migrating and resident wild birds, butterflies and other appropriate wildlife;
  • create nature trails for hiking, biking and pedestrian commuting, athletic fields and other recreation areas;
  • create functioning wetlands, lakes and other water features; and
  • sponsor education efforts via area schools and other groups to enhance understanding of natural habitats, wildlife, environmental conservation, wetlands and storm water issues.

For more information on how to volunteer or contribute please visit their website at:

Exploration Green Detention Facility


The Exploration Green project has been recognized for several awards:

  • 2022 Proclamation – Celebrate the Awesome Success and Looming Completion of Exploration Green – Harris County Precinct 2
  • 2022 Texas Environmental Excellence Award – Finalist – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
  • 2021 Project Award for Public Infrastructure – Association of Water Board Directors – Texas
  • 2021 Treasure of the Bay – Texas Master Naturalist Galveston Bay Chapter
  • 2020 Engineering Excellence Award National Recognition Award – American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
  • 2020 Conservation Wrangler Award – Texan by Nature
  • 2019 Texas Engineering Excellence Award, Gold Medal for Exploration Green Phase 1  – American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Texas division
  • 2019 Treasure of the Bay – Texas Master Naturalist Galveston Bay Chapter
  • 2019 Parks and Natural Area On-the-Ground Project over $500k – H-GAC
  • 2019 Our Great Region “Excellence Award”  – H-GAC
  • 2019 People’s Choice Award – Urban Land Institute
  • 2019 Finalist, Development of Distinction – Urban Land Institute
  • 2018 Stormwater Management Green Infrastructure (second place) – National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA)
  • 2018 Exploration Green Day Proclamation – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
  • 2018 Mayor’s Proud Partner Recognition – Keep Houston Beautiful, Mayor Sylvester Turner
  • 2018 Guardian of the Bay – Galveston Bay Foundation
  • 2018 Allied World Resilience Award – National Wildlife Foundation
  • 2018 Special Service Award – Houston region Sierra Club
  • 2016 Our Great Region “Connections Award” – H-GAC
  • 2015 Arbor Award – Trees for Houston
    Exploration Green Conservancy and Executive Board Member Debra Goode both received an annual Arbor Award from Trees For Houston, our highly acclaimed partner for acquiring, nurturing and planting native Texas trees.
  • 2015 American Society of Landscape Architects Texas Chapter Honor Award – American Society of Landscape Architects
    Landscape architectural firm SWA Architecture Group, creator of the detailed Exploration Green Master Plan, received national recognition for the concept and quality of the project’s Master Plan.
  • 2014 Exploration Green Day Proclamation – Houston Mayor Anise Parker
  • 2013 Parks and Natural Areas Award for Planning – Houston-Galveston Area Council
    EGC won the Planning Award while facing stiff competition like the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, testifying to the project leadership’s clarity of vision and planning, our partner organizations in this enterprise, and the number and enthusiasm of our volunteer corps.
  • 2013 Mayor’s Proud Partner Recognition – Keep Houston Beautiful, Mayor Anise Parker
    The Office of Houston Mayor Anise Parker recognized CLCWA’s “tremendous efforts on behalf of our city.” Keep Houston Beautiful honored the Exploration Green flood control, conservation and recreation project.


Exploration Green has been recognized in articles around the area, Texas, and the Nation.

Houston Chronicle 2022

Combining fun, flood control Years in the making, Clear Lake’s new park pulls double duty for nature and mitigation

Midland Daily News 2022

Midland is not resilient against floods - Here's how we could be

KHOU 11 News 2022

HIDDEN GEM: Exploration Green

Community Impact 2022

New parks, recreation opportunities to join Bay Area

Community Impact 2021

Phase 4 trails at Exploration Green in the Clear Lake area in the works, and other October Updates

Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) 2021

Galveston Bay Estuary Program (GBEP) State of The Bay: A Spotlight on GBEP

Water Finance & Management 2021

Houston-area water authority continues work on flood control project

Houston Chronicle Bay Area 2021

Final Exploration Green detention areas expected to be ready in 2022

Community Impact 2021

Exploration Green completes new parking lot, continues work on remaining phases

ENRTexas & Louisiana 2021

Golf Course Turned Into Storm Retention System Saves Homes

Community Impact 2021

Exploration Green development continues; traffic increase amid COVID-19

Houston Chronicle Bay Area Citizen 2020

Exploration Green planting sessions promise to be fun and muddy

Houston Business Journal 2020

Second phase of Exploration Green flood-control project in Clear Lake complete

Community Impact 2020

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

WaterWorld 2020

Flood control project protects community during hurricanes

Houston Chronicle Bay Area Citizen 2020

Exploration Green gets $750,000 grant

Houston Chronicle 2020

Three Houston area parks are about to get better

AgriLife Today 2020

New stormwater wetland will reduce flooding, pollution

Community Impact 2020

Exploration Green continues summer progress amid COVID-19

Public News Service 2020

Report: Natural Climate Change Mitigation Would Benefit Texas

Storm Water Solutions 2020

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam in National Engineering Competition

civil + structural ENGINEER 2020

Exploration Green

Community Impact 2020

Exploration Green provides nature center in practical space

Community Impact 2020

Clear Lake City Water Authority completes Phase 2 of Exploration Green

WaterWorld 2019

ACEC Texas Awards Gold Medal to LAN for Clear Lake Flood Control Project

civil + structural ENGINEER 2019

ACEC Texas Awards Gold Medal to LAN for Clear Lake Flood Control Project

Houston Chronicle 2019

Saturday: 500 free trees available in The Market at Springwoods Village

Houston Chronicle Bay Area Citizen 2019

Survey on improving Pasadena parks snares 1,000 responses

Exploration Green wins Houston-Galveston Area Council award 2019

H-GAC gave the Exploration Green Conservancy an Our Great Region Award in the Excellence category.

Houston Chronicle

Exploration Green protected from commercial development forever

Houston Public Media

Some Clear Lake Residents Oppose New Park Plan For Old Golf Course

Houston Chronicle

Clear Lake turns ex-golf course into detention area to drain floodwater

Houston Public Media

Clear Lake Detention Project Underway May Have Saved Hundreds Of Homes During Harvey

Houston Business Journal

Former golf course to protect thousands of Bay Area homes from flooding

The Texas Tribune

In search of a flood fix, one Houston community turned to a golf course

Business Insider

Houston is tackling the threat of destructive hurricanes and flooding

Washington Post

Reclaiming golf courses could help Houston fight the next Hurricane Harvey

Storm Water Solutions

Drainage Hole-in-One

Houston Chronicle/Bay Area Citizen

Clear Lakes's former golf course-turned reservoir holds up under Harvey


Houston Flood Prevention Plan: High-Priced Golf Courses

USA Today

How this small Houston community survived Hurricane Harvey when other parts didn’t

Fast Company

The Suburban Golf Course, Reconsidered For The Age Of Climate Change

civil + structural ENGINEER

Exploration Green

Houston Real Estate Landscape Swamplot

Surveying the Former Clear Lake City Golf Club Now That the Hazards Have Taken Over the Course

Houston Business Journal

Houston-area flood-mitigation, green space project finishes first phase

Houston Chronicle

The volunteer effect (Letter to the Editor)

Agrilife TODAY

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

Houston Chronicle

After Harvey, Houston has to get greener


Return on Resilience: A Dollar of Prevention Is Worth $6 in Avoided Costs

Agrilife TODAY

Exploration Green Receives 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award

Stormwater Solutions

Exploration Green Receives 2018 Excellence in Green Infrastructure Award

Community Impact Newspaper

Bay Area residents prepare for future flooding

Community Impact Newspaper

Exploration Green detention project temporarily halted

Public Works

Could You Stop Chronic Flooding by Repurposing a Golf Course?

Business Insider

Before and after photos show how dead golf courses are being transformed into housing, parks, and flood protection systems

Community Impact Newsletter

Exploration Green granted variance for project to continue

Houston Chronicle

Work to resume at golf-course turned reservoir Exploration Green after pond construction delay

National Wildlife Federation

Houston’s Exploration Green Honored with NWF-Allied World Resilience Award


CLCWA is pleased to announce partnerships with the following entities who have provided support for Exploration Green: