Holland snow melt system 'struggling' in bitter cold

11:18 PM, Jan 27, 2014   |    comments
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- It's so cold outside that even Holland's snow melt system is struggling with all the snow.  WZZM 13 went to find out why some of the heated streets and sidewalks downtown are collecting snow.

In downtown Holland, there's no need for a thermometer to know it's bone chilling cold.  Anyone can just glance at the heated streets and sidewalks.

"It's one of the first things I noticed actually, I was like 'Wow, the snow melt isn't working today'," says Holland resident, Ryan Johnson.

"Bottom line is it's freezing cold, it's colder than the snow melt works," says Holland resident, Bruce Johnson.

The snow melt system, first installed in 1988, wasn't designed for temperatures as cold as Monday.

"The snow melt system is designed for 15 degree minimum and about an inch of snow an hour," says Ted Siler, operations director for the Holland Board of Public Works. "It's about five degrees outside and there's quite a bit of snow, so it's struggling to keep up a little bit."

Some downtown areas have more snow than others depending on how the tubing underground is laid out.

"We use warm condenser water from our power plant and we run that through the tubing in the streets and sidewalks downtown," says Siler. "It goes in at about 95 degrees and comes back to the plant at about 70 degrees, and then we circulate that and warm it up again."

To put things in perspective, residents say there really isn't much to complain about in downtown Holland compared to a regular street.

"We designed the system for 90% of the time, not for days like today or a couple weeks ago," says Siler.

"If this is all we have, given the amount of snow, this is nothing and we are very fortunate that years ago people had the vision to put something like this here," says Bruce Johnson.

At least this way, visitors to downtown Holland can still enjoy somewhat of a winter wonderland.

The Holland Board of Public Works says the snow melt system just needs some time to catch up and they expect it will likely melt most of the snow by Wednesday or Thursday .

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