Black plastic balls protect Los Angeles’ water supply

Black plastic balls to protect Los Angeles’ water supply

5:18 PM, 18th August 2015
Black plastic balls to protect Los Angeles’ water supply
Plastic or ‘shadeballs’ covering the surface of the Los Angeles reservoir. Water infrastructure investment represents $250 million in savings, and prevents the annual loss of more than 300 million gallons of water.

LOS ANGELES, US: In an attempt to conserve water 20,000 plastic “shade balls” were recently released in the Los Angeles reservoir.

These black balls will float on the water’s surface without releasing any chemicals, and help block sunlight and UV rays. This will, in turn, reduce the rate of evaporation from the reservoir, which drains approximately 300 million gallons of water a year; and reduce the amount of algae growth, in order to keep the water safer for consumption, said the site Nature World.

With this cost-effective investment that brings the LA reservoir into compliance with new federal water quality mandates, the shade balls are expected to save $250 million when compared to other comparable tools considered to meet that goal.

“In the midst of California’s historic drought, it takes bold ingenuity to maximize my goals for water conservation,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This effort by LADWP is emblematic of the kind of the creative thinking we need to meet those challenges. Together, we’ve led the charge to cut our city’s water usage by 13 percent and today we complete an infrastructure investment that saves our ratepayers millions and protects a vital source of drinking water for years to come.”

Each “shade ball” is a four-inch-wide, hollow ball, coated with a UV-light blocking chemical and filled with water to prevent wind relocation. The balls are also designed to avoid deterioration and are expected to last ten years before needing to be recycled.

The release of these “shade balls” was the final installment of a $34.5 million project to protect the area’s water supply. The plastic balls cost $0.36 each and in total 96 million balls were released throughout three other joining reservoirs, in addition to surrounding areas, including a reservoir in the Las Virgenes municipal water district, which introduced “shade balls” back in June, according to another article.

Researchers have also found that carcinogens can develop when sunlight reacts with certain chemicals in the water. So, this initiative started in 2008 after Los Angeles realized that two of its reservoirs contained unusually high levels of bromate. Bromate forms when sunlight causes a reaction among bromide - a chemical found in some water - and ozone or chlorine, which are both used to disinfect water. To reduce the presence of bromate, “shade balls” were instituted to shield the water from sunlight, said the site. 

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