The L.A. Water Reservoir is now home to 96,000,000 (yes, 96 million!) black balls that look like they belong in a ball pit at a kid’s birthday party. But actually, they fit perfectly in the reservoir.
These spheres are called shade balls, and they’re helping the reservoir fix a quality control problem with it’s drinking water. You may be wondering if they’re safe to have in drinking water; how can something called ‘shade balls’ be black (won’t it attract more sunlight?); and what do they even do?
The shade balls are partially filled with water to keep them in place. Their goal is to eliminate sunlight, and they do just that. Water travels from the filtration plant to the reservoir and then to the customer’s home. In the filtration plant, the water is treated with chlorine to help keep bromide levels in check. But when exposed to sunlight in the reservoir, it formed highly unprecedented levels of bromate, which have strict regulations as to the amount allowed in drinking water.
While many think the purpose of these balls is to eliminate evaporation, their real purpose is to eliminate the amount of sunlight hitting the water, thus lessening the chemical reaction of chlorine and bromide due to light exposure. They create a crystal-like structure when floating in the reservoir.
Were shade balls Los Angeles’ first option to help solve the problem? Nope! So what eventually led them to choose these; is it safe to have 96 million of these floating in a reservoir full of drinking water; how long will they last? If you want answers to those questions and many more, check out this YouTube video below!