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Fun Stuff

This is What 20,000 Shade Balls Rolling Into The L.A. Reservoir Looks Like

August 11, 2015 by Brian Champlin

Throwing shade? More like… *rolling* shade (kk, I’ll let myself out…)

On Monday the city of Los Angeles released the final 20,000 “shade balls” into the L.A. Reservoir as part of a $34.5 million project that aims to both keep local water cleaner and save our city a ton of money over the coming years.

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“In the midst of California’s historic drought, it takes bold ingenuity to maximize my goals for water conservation,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said, via the L.A. Daily News. “This effort by LADWP is emblematic of the kind of the creative thinking we need to meet those challenges.”

Also, it looks pretty cool.

Check out what it looked like, per this video from Garcetti’s Facebook page:

So why do we need the shade balls?

Well, a couple reasons.

First the shade balls not only protect against dust and birds from entering the water, but they prevent the absorption of sunlight, which could trigger a toxic reaction between naturally occurring bromide in groundwater and the chlorine we use to disinfect that same water (you can go here to get more info about how that reaction works and why the balls help to prevent it).

Secondly, the balls help by decreasing evaporation, which can have a dramatic savings effect:

“By reducing evaporation, these shade balls will conserve 300 million gallons of water each year, instead of just evaporating into the sky. That’s 300 million gallons to fight this drought,” Garcetti said via ABC-7.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has released 96 million shade balls into the reservoir at the Van Norman Complex in Sylmar as part of their project to keep the drinking water safe. Each individual ball is BPA free and costs $0.36 to produce.

The balls will last about 10 years, at which time they’ll be swapped out for a new batch.

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