96 million 'shade balls' roll into Los Angeles reservoir
Thursday, August 13, 2015, 4:07 PM - Los Angeles officials are using 96 million plastic balls to help conserve drinking water amid an historic drought in California.
The 36-cent plastic balls are designed to block sunlight, preventing chemical reactions that can cause harmful algae blooms.
L.A. officials released 20,000 balls into the Los Angeles Reservoir Monday, bringing the total number of balls in use to 96 million.
"These ‘shade balls’ act to absorb sunlight, and are specially coated to absorb UV rays," explains Scott Sutherland, a meteorologist and science writer at The Weather Network.
"By blocking the UV rays from penetrating into the water, this prevents chemical reactions between naturally-occurring bromide and the chlorine added to the water as a disinfectant. In the presence of UV light, these two chemicals combine to produce bromate, a suspected cancer-causing substance. Blocking sunlight, in general, also inhibits algae growth and reduces the amount of water lost from the reservoir due to evaporation."
It's estimated that 300 million gallons -- or 1.1 billion litres -- will be saved from evaporation. That's enough to provide drinking water to 8,100 people, city councilor Mitchell Englander tells the CBC.
"As the drought continues, it has never been more important to focus on innovative ways to maintain the highest quality drinking water for our four million residents," he adds.
California is in the midst of an unprecedented drought, with more than half of the state experiencing 'exceptional drought' conditions.
Approximately 37 million residents haven been impacted by the dry conditions.