A lot of black plastic balls are being intentionally dumped in water reservoirs in America. Though it might look as pollution, the reason is quite eco-friendly.
Over the last few weeks, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s water reservoir had about 96 million black balls poured into it. The innovative project conducted on the 175-acre man-made lake is to conserve water and help protect it from chemical pollution. Interestingly, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti helped dump the last 20,000 small black plastic balls into the city’s reservoir.
These black plastic balls are technically referred to as “shade balls” and are quite useful in keeping the water clean and help minimize water loss due to evaporation. Each ball is slightly weighed down with water, and a large swath covering the water mass accords a decent enough protection to the rapidly dwindling water reservoirs.
While LA’s Department of Water and Power is the first utility company to use shade balls to protect its water, the invention has been commonly used for a long time. In fact, airports regularly use these plastic balls to keep the pesky birds away from water tanks, and oil and gas exploration sites deploy these shade balls to prevent water evaporation.
The other benefit of using the shade balls is equally important. LA’s water contains naturally occurring bromide. Exposure to sunlight, coupled with chemical interaction with chlorine that was added to disinfect the water, caused the buildup of carcinogen bromate. While shade balls do not completely obscure sunlight or stop the chemical reaction, they significantly reduce the scale of the formation.
Extolling the virtues of the little black plastic balls, Eric Garcetti said, “In the midst of California’s historic drought, it takes bold ingenuity to maximize my goals for water conservation. 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.”
Just how effective are these shade balls? Experts estimate the little balls collectively prevent 300 million gallons of water being evaporated every year. Unfortunately, this is just a drop in the ocean considering the fact that LA residents alone consumed more than 13 billion gallons of water in the month of June alone. Nonetheless, anything that can save water is a welcome addition to the drought-stricken region.
[Image Credit | YouTube Screen Grab]