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So much snow. So little room. Time for a snow party?

Snow 'farms', snow melters, and even a 'snow party' in Boston Harbor: Cities and businesses come up with various solutions as they struggle to remove growing mounds of snow.

A bulldozer shovels snow out around the cars that were stranded on Lake Shore Drive Feb. 2, 2011 in Chicago. A winter blizzard of historic proportions pushed Chicago to get snow melters. In Boston, a local legislator has suggested a 'snow party,' dumping the snow mounds into Boston Harbor.

Kiichiro Sato/AP

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Even as thousands of snow-weary communities dug themselves out of this week’s epic 30-state storm and braced for more snow and sleet starting Friday, they faced another problem:

How will they deal with the stuff?

In the Midwest and the Northeast especially, cities and businesses are running out of room to plow the snow. Instead, they’re having to load it on trucks and haul it away. That’s not only time-consuming, it’s expensive and comes at a time when businesses, and especially local governments, are already under budgetary strain.

So they're looking for novel ways to handle the growing mounds of snow. For example:

Chicago, hit with the third-largest snow storm in its history, supplemented its monster fleet of more than 500 plows with snow melters to deal with the 2-1/2 feet of snow that fell. The city joined New York City, whose 36 melters have been running nonstop since the snow began falling there.

•In anticipation of the latest storm, Boston last weekend reportedly hauled more than 37,000 tons of snow from streets and neighborhoods and put it into designated dumping areas. The city’s six so-called “snow farms” are nearly filled to capacity, so it has just opened a new one – its biggest yet – an entire acre in South Boston.

One local state senator has even called for a Boston “snow party,” dumping accumulated snow into Boston Harbor much like the famous tea that was heaved overboard more than two centuries ago.

Well, maybe that's too creative. Federal environmental laws prohibit dumping snow into waterways because of the accompanying salt, motor oil, and other pollutants. Authorities opened an investigation when a private contractor was caught on a surveillance camera overnight Sunday dumping 42 truckloads of snow into the Merrimack River in Lawrence, Mass.


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