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Flood prevention with style

image Exploration Green aerial view

HOUSTON - A few years before Hurricane Harvey struck, Clear Lake City decided to implement an out-of-the-box, yet simple solution – retrofitting golf courses for storm water detention. And it helped them prevent flooding of more than 150 houses from Harvey’s devastation.





    In May 2011, the Clear Lake City Water Authority (CLCWA) acquired 178 acres of land that previously served as a golf course. Called ‘Exploration Green,’ the project’s goal was to drain the streets in the community, which experienced problems previously with drainage and flooding during extreme storm events. The idea for this project came directly from the community’s grassroots efforts.
    The five-phase project features a series of engineered detention ponds designed to withstand a 100-year storm event. The detention ponds will hold the water, slow it down, and allow more time for the water to get back out into a series of bayous, culminating in the Gulf of Mexico. The first phase of the project began in Nov. 2015 and was completed in April 2018, months after Harvey’s devastating blow at a cost of $4.7 million dollars. Once the entire project is completed in 2021, it will hold half a billion gallons of water (yes billion with a B), the equivalent of 750 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
    Overall construction of the Phase 1 detention pond required 350,000cy of excavation on a 37.8-acre site that was formally a golf course.  Over one mile of hike and bike trails were installed.  The new construction provides approximately 114 acre-ft of storm water detention volume which will provide detention for an area that previously did not have anything to
reduce the devastation of flooding.
    LECON Inc., founded by Daniel D. Lloyd in 1988, is a general contractor specializing in earthwork, drainage and concrete projects, used HDPE pipe, irrigation, concrete and various seed mixes for turf establishment in the construction of phases 1B and 1C.
    LECON faced some of the same challenges with this project that other contractors face on a daily basis. Weather was the biggest challenge, especially working in an aquatic environment and requiring dry weather to excavate large quantities of material from the project. Project Manager James L. Patton, II, stayed in constant contact with Kelly Shipley, P.E., project manager for design engineering firm, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN). “This project experienced, due to Hurricane Harvey and the “Tax Day Flood,” many situations where our project was under water for an extended period of time. These delays are always costly and when they are extremely adverse, as the situations we faced, they are not expected,” says Patton.
    “The innovative design to take an existing golf course and change it into an environment and habitat for wildlife, wetlands and an area for the residents to enjoy made this project unique,” said Shipley. “The project has miles of trails and paths around a series of lakes. It’s a great concept and I know the residents are extremely excited about it due to all of the comments we’ve received during construction and after.”
    LECON is a general construction contractor that specializes in earthwork, drainage and concrete projects. -cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net