Brace yourself, winter is coming.

We here in the Midwest know what a real winter means: a completely new way of driving, parking lots that become ice rinks, and stocking up on plenty of kitty litter-- even if we don't own a cat.

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And don't forget about that lovely Lake Effect snow we get to enjoy here in West Michigan!

Snow that we will spend plenty of time and manpower shoveling or blowing from our sidewalks and driveways. Now, call me crazy, but I actually like shoveling snow! It's a great way to get some fresh air and burn off some excess calories that come hand-in-hand with the holidays.

However, I understand my gratification from shoveling snow is not a widely accepted opinion. In fact, you know who won't be shoveling snow from their sidewalks this winter?

Holland, Michigan.

Were you aware that the heated sidewalks that line the streets of downtown Holland are actually part of the "largest publicly owned, municipal Snowmelt system in North America?"


Holland Michigan sidewalk
City of Holland via YouTube

How Does It Work?

According to the City of Holland the lakeside community first installed the system in 1988. Considering all the Lake Effect snow they get over there I'd say this was a smart investment! Here's how it works:

approximately 4,700 gallons of water gets pumped through the system every minute to ensure that our downtown is snow & ice free. Our system is a closed one, with its beginning & end at the Holland Energy Park.  Waste heat is captured from power generation that in turn, provides the hot temperature needed to warm the water that runs through more than 120 miles of piping placed underneath the streets and sidewalks.

At a temperature of 95°F the system can melt one in of snow in one hour. Adds the City,

Snowmelt in Holland make the winters a breeze.  No worries about drudging through the snow or salt lined streets. Enjoy a jog, walk your pup...without worrying about slipping and sliding or getting your feet wet!

Have other states like Illinois, Wisconsin, or Iowa taken advantage of systems like this? Has word reached Minnesota yet? I feel like every Midwest state that experiences harsh winter conditions could learn a lesson from Holland, Michigan.

Winter in Holland, MI

Gallery Credit: City of Holland

Inside the De Zwaan Windmill, Holland

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