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Environment

Why the heck is L.A. dumping 96 million "shade balls" into a reservoir?

You know the drought in California is bad when the city of Los Angeles resorts to covering water supplies with millions of plastic black balls called shade balls.

But seriously--WHAT is going on here?

On Monday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power released the final 20,000 out of 96 million “shade balls” into local reservoirs in the city.

The manufacturers are calling these UV deflecting balls “shade balls,” and they are part of the city’s plan to save 300 million gallons of water.

The balls are coated with a material that blocks ultraviolet light and is non-toxic (which might seem obvious since the balls are in local water supplies). Shade balls are also filled with a little potable water to prevent them from being swept away by wind.

The balls were designed by a women named Sydney Chase who founded XavierC, which manufactures the balls. Chase prefers to call them “conservation balls,” though. Her company sells the balls for 0.36 USD, which saved the city of Los Angeles  250 million USD  (the amount it would cost the city to invest in improved water management facilities).

Are they environmentally friendly?YES

The balls will not degrade for 25 years and will then be recycled. Even more importantly, shade balls stop water from evaporating by keeping water temperatures cooler. Which not only saves LA money, but prevents water waste that the city cannot afford. Plus, the balls discourage wildlife from wandering into the reservoirs, preventing drowning.

Did you know that evaporation can have negative effects on the environment?

There are two things that shade balls prevent that damage the environment. The first, is algal blooms. Warmer water is the perfect environment for algae to flourish on the top layer of water. Algae can be costly to remove from water supplies and some types are even toxic.

The second has to do with a chemical reaction that can occur when potable water supplies evaporate. Drinking water tends to contain naturally occurring bromide from groundwater sources. During evaporation, exposure from sunlight reacts with bromide and creates bromate which is a carcinogen.

Preventing evaporation, algae growth and saving animals and lowering water temperature...shade balls just might be as "cool" as they sound. 

Add your comments or #shadeballs jokes below!