96 Million Balls Might Just Save Los Angeles' Precious Water Supply

Los Angeles fills its water reservoir with shade balls, turning it into a giant ball pit as part of a massive water conservation project.

With California’s historic drought about to enter its fifth year, the mayor of Los Angeles ceremoniously dropped the ball – or in this case, 20,000 of them – into L.A. Water Reservoir as a part of a massive water conservation project.

Apparently, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been dumping black plastic spheres, known as shade balls, in the reservoir to protect the water from UV rays and evaporation. The department had already released 95,980,000 balls to cover the 175-acre surface of the reservoir when the mayor made the final contribution.

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

Apart from slowing down evaporation, the opaque balls also prevent sunlight from prompting a chemical reaction between bromite and the chlorine in the water. The shade balls also keep wildlife from contaminating the reservoir, and shields it from dust and algae that forms on water's surface.

Watch the hypnotic video of thousands of shade balls rolling into the water in the clip posted below:

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LADWP is the first utility company to utilize this simple and cost-efficient technology to protect water.

“Shade balls are a great example of how engineering meets common sense,” explained LADWP general manager Marcie Edwards. “As we make updates, we are mindful to be wise and practical with our investments. Shade balls are an affordable and effective way to comply with regulations, and help us continue to deliver the best drinking water to our customers.”

The $34.5 million drought relief project is expected to protect 300 million gallons of water from evaporating in California's harsh sunlight every year.

This is not the first time LADWP has used these balls.

In 2008, the department dropped 400,000 shade balls to cover Ivanhoe Reservoir, although in that case, the balls weren’t placed there to prevent evaporation or algae but to solely stop harmful chemical reaction from taking place in the water.

Along with Ivanhoe, the opaque balls are currently covering two other Los Angeles reservoirs as well.

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