Shade Balls Help California Weather the Worst Drought in 20 Years (20 pics)

The city of Los Angeles has spent $34.5 million on “shade balls”, which is an initiative to prevent the loss of 300 million gallons of water per year. The mayor of the city, Eric Garcetti, released the shade balls this week into the LA reservoir to help conserve the local water supply.

LADWP is the first utility company to use this technology for water quality protection. Today’s deployment marked the final phase of an effort that involves the deployment of 96 million shade balls to the 175-acre reservoir -- the largest in-basin facility of its kind owned and managed by LADWP. The small, black plastic balls protect water quality by preventing sunlight-triggered chemical reactions, deterring birds and other wildlife, and protecting water from rain and wind-blown dust.

A cost-effective investment that brings the L.A. Reservoir into compliance with new federal water quality mandates, the shade balls are expected to save $250 million when compared to other comparable tools considered to meet that goal. Those alternatives included splitting the reservoir into two with a bisecting dam; and installing two floating covers that would have cost more than $300 million. In addition, the shade balls will also prevent the annual loss to evaporation of about 300 million gallons of water.