Detention basins have become a vital part of flood control strategies in the Houston area. Some communities and architects have developed creative methods of enhancing the basins and improving the community at the same time.
What exactly is a detention basin? Detention basins are areas created to collect excess stormwater and then hold it temporarily. After the heavy rainfall subsides, the water in the detention basin is then slowly drained once the water levels in the city's receiving channels have receded. Retention basins, on the other hand, are created for longer term or indefinite storage of storm water.
Many communities in the Houston area need detention basins in order to be safe from storm flooding; but these areas can often be an unattractive eyesore that is unusable for any other purpose. What do we do with them when it's not raining? Our goal here at Landscape Art is to help turn these eyesore areas into attractive and useable areas for the community, while still maintaining their use for storm water management.
The Westwillow community benefited from such an effort, with the construction of a large, fully-accessible playground and two dog parks inside a large detention area. We worked on the project with architect Michael Murr on this project for the West Harris County Municipal Utility District 11 The result is that an eyesore area, full of weeds and completely unusable, became an attractive, wonderful play area for kids, dogs and even adults. In the case of a dramatic rain event, the basin will fill up with storm water as designed, but the park is prepared to be fully submerged then, after the waters recede, cleaned up and used again and again.
This project also included a second playground, two miles of walking trails and landscaping enhancements throughout the community. This once unuseable detention basin has now become a highlight of the community and a space they can use interactively to enhance their lifestyle. You can see more photos in our Portfolio.
This park is a great example of how smart engineering and design can maximize the look and potential of urban spaces, without losing their original use and functionality. We're proud to have been a part of executing this amazing design and look forward to more innovative projects.