How do you keep your recycled water from evaporating during a state-wide drought? Shade balls. On August 10, 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined the LA Department of Water and Power to roll 20,000 black, 4-inch diameter plastic balls into the Los Angeles Reservoir, a final deployment of the total 100,000,000 that are now covering the water’s surface.

The balls are designed to prevent the evaporation of 300 million gallons of water annually, will help block sunlight that might cause algae growth and toxic chemical reactions, and can protect the water from birds and wind-blown dust. They’re locally made, BPA-free, water ballasted with potable water so they don’t blow away, and are designed not to degrade. From Bloomberg:

[Company President Sydney] Chase calls her product “conservation balls,” because they can help keep reservoirs intact and clean. They’re also seeing use on the tailing ponds where miners store contaminated water, to keep birds away from toxic agents, and in wastewater treatment facilities, to keep odors at bay. They cost about 36¢ each to make.

The shade ball solution should be easier than maintaining massive tarp covers. Also, they’re fun to watch:


Update: Why are Drought Balls Black Instead of White?

2016 Update: Why shade balls aren’t such a great idea after all and The drought-busting balls that don’t bust drought.

Watch this conservation idea next: The Janicki Omniprocessor turns human waste into drinking water. Plus: Every Last Drop: How to Save Water, The Water Cycle and The Basics of Freshwater + Water, Water, Everywhere?

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