Houston to Redevelop Former Inwood GC for Retention Ponds

The former Clear Lake Golf Club, which provided enough drainage to save 150 homes after Hurricane Harvey, and the former Inwood GC are being transformed to help control flooding, while acting as green space when there is no rain. Inwood GC will house basins for about 370 million gallons of stormwater.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston is finding new ways to use its golf courses and save whole communities, the San Francisco-based Triple Pundit reported.

On November 28, C&RB reported on Exploration Green, a project constructed from the former Clear Lake Golf Club in Houston, Texas, that provided enough drainage from flooding events that it saved 150 homes from inundation when the storm hit. The project is in its first of five construction phases and will be complete in 2021, and is expected to drain up to half a billion gallons of stormwater and protect up to 3,000 homes.

The project includes redeveloping the 200-square-acre plot to include walking trails, trees and other features that will be available to the community year-round, Triple Pundit reported.

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“We don’t want it to just be a hole in the ground, we want it to be something nice,” said Clear Lake Water Authority President John Branch. “Unless there’s a hard rain, the public can use it every day for something other than flood control.”

In February the Houston city council approved a plan to redevelop the defunct Inwood Golf Course into a multi-use green space that would house basins for about 370 million gallons of stormwater. The detention ponds would help reduce flooding from the White Oak Bayou, an area that sustained widespread flooding during the Harvey rains this summer, the Triple Pundit reported.

Both golf courses pose unique advantages to nearby communities: They are positioned right next to, or within the growing communities, so the catchment ponds are able to act as runoff areas for water that would otherwise inundate storm drains and streets. And, as in the case of the Exploration Green site, planners are able to selectively introduce plants that help with retention and absorb city carbon emissions, the Triple Pundit reported.

As to golfing in Houston: There are still plenty of golf courses to go around. Houston has an estimated 150 courses spread about its flat landscape, and are still a major attraction for the city’s tourism and residential home industries, the Triple Pundit reported.

Still, if there’s any positive takeaway from the city’s increasing vulnerability to flooding, it’s the realization that there’s environmentally positive ways to use open spaces that both benefit the community and protect land values. Cities in environmentally at-risk areas are also looking at the prospect of buying flooded homes and developing those properties into retention ponds. Cost and at times, neighborhood push-back are the two biggest obstacles that cities face when trying to stave off that next 100- or 500-year-flood, the Triple Pundit reported.

The upcoming January 2018 issue of C&RB will feature a focus on how golf properties have prepared for, dealt with, and learned from the natural disasters that plagued their properties in 2017, including storms and hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires.