Holland Board of Public Works continues to work with innovative companies to provide reliable, clean water for our customers.

This year, HBPW contracted with consulting firm Pure Technologies to inspect inside large diameter transmission mains even while the system is still running. It’s called SmartBall®, a leak detection system which accurately identifies leaks and air pockets in water mains.

The SmartBall® is smaller than a baseball and features acoustic sensors, an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer. The tests help prioritize capital spending by proactively identifying problem areas within six feet. That means less downtime and more accurate digs.

The SmartBall® fits inside a larger foam ball which rolls along the bottom of the main taking measurements and reporting back. It is then captured at the end of the main, all while the water is still flowing.

HPBW used the SmartBall® for the first time this summer on a 36-inch transmission main running from the treatment plant near Tunnel Park to downtown Holland. The information they collected will help guide and set priorities for the upgrades HBPW makes this upcoming year.

Did you know:

Our water mains are up to 36 inches in Diameter?

There are nearly 250 Miles of water mains in Holland?

Up to 35 million gallons of water travel through our mains each day?

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The smartball is lowered into the line with a metal claw and released while the line remains functional and under pressure.

Smartball Insertion


While in the line, the smartball uses the acoustic sensor to detect any leaks and collect data.

Smartball Inspection


The smartball is captured with a net and pulled out while the line remains in service. From there, the data is extracted and analyzed.

Smartball Extraction

See You Later, Snow

In the latest expansion, the city added 46,326 ft squared of snowmelt to allow easier access around downtown Holland during the icy winter months.

The water team ran 146 blow-offs to clean the piping, replaced more than 100 valves and flushed miles of old tubing during the transition to update corroded valves and clean the system.

The flush and expansion included Central Avenue, which offers the added benefit of a clear gateway to Evergreen Commons. HBPW will now distribute heated city water from Holland Energy Park (HEP) instead of water from Lake Macatawa to the snowmelt system.

“We always have a safe place to walk in Holland, even on the snowiest of days.”

“The expansion down Central Avenue has created safe passage for the members at the Commons, especially those who join us from The Warm Friend,” said Dave Knibbe, president and CEO of Evergreen Commons. “Keeping folks active, able and mobile is important, and the snowmelt expansion provides a safe gateway around Holland that benefits our older community members.”

As well as providing safe passage to the Evergreen Commons, the growing snowmelt system creates more opportunity for the Common’s Striders walking group. “The Common’s Striders can now meet up right at the Commons to start their walk all year long,” said Knibbe. “It’s great to know that we always have a safe place to walk in Holland, even on the snowiest of days.”

HBPW is proud to bring the heat to the 60 miles of piping under the snowmelt around Holland. The new closed system will help keep the snowmelt system clean and running for years to come.

Snowmelt Expansion

What's New at the Water Plant?

New Bulk Chemical Monitoring System

HBPW installed a new chemical level monitoring system that uses radar technology to increase accuracy of measuring chemical levels in the plant’s storage tanks. The system will replace the ultrasonic measuring devices installed in 1999. Unlike the ultrasonic devices, the new system doesn’t require any penetration into the tank. The radar can read the liquid from the top of the tank. The water plant installed five chemical level monitoring systems: three in sodium hypochlorite (disinfectant) tanks and two in aluminum sulfate (coagulant) tanks.

New Low Service Actuators

The Holland water plant has four vertical turbine pumps at the low service pump station. The pumps move the water from lake Michigan to the water plant. This year HBPW replaced the twenty-year-old actuator valves, which allow water to flow to the plant pumps.

Settling Basins

The water treatment plant completed the rebuild of the last of four settling basins this year. The settling basins are where the larger particles in the water clump together and settle out. The team rebuilt one basin each year for the last four years. Each basin rebuild includes new bearings, partial shafts, paddles, walkways and fixed ladders.

Holland Youth Connection

The water treatment plant has partnered with Holland Youth Connection for the past several years. Holland Youth Connection employs youth during the summer and gives them the opportunity to gain work experience, develop solid work behaviors, provide helpful services for the Holland community and form positive relationships with peers and supervisors. A group worked for three weeks at the plant and helped install two new catch basins for sump pumps located in the east and west head houses and a French drain to relieve ponding of water on top of the sediment basins.