Imagine a city where the streets and sidewalks are always clear and snow magically melts away as soon as it hits the ground. That city exists, and it's right here in Michigan.

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Since 1988, the residents of Holland, Michigan have been enjoying snow-free streets and sidewalks thanks to an underground snowmelt system.

A Plan That Originated in Europe

Edgar Prince was a Holland native and founder of the Prince Manufacturing Corporation. Prince discovered the idea of underground snowmelt systems while visiting Europe and brought the idea home to Michigan.

Holland's underground snowmelt system is currently the largest municipally-run snowmelt system in North America, according to Discover Holland's website.

Here's How it Works:

Holland generates its own electricity at a local power plant. The waste heat that is generated by the power plant is used to heat water that is pumped through approximately 190 miles of orange tubing that is embedded under the streets and sidewalks of the downtown area.

The system heats about 670,000 square feet of streets and sidewalks and is capable of melting about one inch of snowfall per hour in 20 degree weather.

Holland's Snowmelt system pumps over 4,700 gallons of water per minute at 95 degrees throughout the underground pipe system. It's a closed system, which means it circulates the same water over and over, reducing the amount of sediment that can get into the system.

A Big Money-Saver

Holland, Michigan averages about 70 inches of snow each year.

According to a city spokesperson, the system saves the city tens of thousands of dollars each year; money that is not spent on snowplow and salt expenses. It also reduces the city's carbon footprint by reducing the number of snowplow trucks in the city.

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