California getting shade due to drought-preventing shade balls

13 Aug 2015

California’s latest effort to stem the worsening effects of its on-going drought are being seen as somewhat extreme, with millions of shade balls being dumped into reservoirs.

The 96m shade balls, which prevent sunlight and UV rays from reducing the levels of water caused by the intense sun, were the brainchild of Los Angeles’ mayor, Eric Garcetti.

According to The New York Times, the balls have been well received by Californians, who hope that they will prevent the evaporation of 300m gallons of water each year, as is the rate being experienced in the state at the moment.

In total, four reservoirs have been filled with the shade balls, costing a total of US$34.5m, with the Los Angeles Reservoir alone holding 3.3bn gallons of water, capable of supplying the city of nearly 4m people.

The balls, which have been manufactured by two local printing companies, cost nearly one-tenth the price of the other alternative concept, which was to install protective covers, which would have cost a total of US$300m.

Of course, concerns over the potential toxicity of millions of plastic balls being dumped into an active water supply was raised, but Mayor Garcetti said in a Facebook post: “The shade balls are BPA free and, in addition to saving water from evaporating, also reduce algae blooms so our water is cleaner.”

The balls have since become something of an online sensation, particularly in the affected area, where videos of the shade balls being dumped into reservoirs have been shared thousands of times, likely due to their oddly-calming effects.

The Hollywood Reservoir in Los Angeles image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic