A Sea of Plastic Balls

It’s an idea that LA hopes will save it from drought.

Check out this reservoir that’s covered in an ocean of black plastic balls to stop water from evaporating.

California is now in its 4th year of a record-breaking drought, and no one knows when it will end or just how much worse it could get. So some are looking for ways… even unusual ways… to protect what water there is left.

In Los Angeles, officials just released 96 million floating ‘shade balls’ into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The black plastic balls are designed to help protect the water against dust, rain, chemicals and wildlife. They are also designed to keep the water from evaporating.

The balls float on the surface of the water, and they block the sun’s rays.


A retired biologist came up with the idea. Supposedly, the idea came to him when he learned about the use of ‘bird balls’ in ponds along airfield runways.

His idea has been used already. Since 2008, the shade balls have been placed in open-air reservoirs to block sunlight, prevent chemical reactions and stop algae blooms.

Each ball is about the size of a large apple. They cost about 36 cents each, and they are black to deflect UV rays.

The shade balls are supposed to stop evaporation by up to 90 percent. If it works, it could save $250 million dollars when compared to other water saving techniques.


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