Sea of millions of shade balls dropped into reservoir. Find out why?
Water is perhaps the most essential element along with air for us to survive. It not only keeps us alive since we are 72% water, it is required by us for multiple things. From drinking, cooking, washing to manufacturing cars, airplanes, everything requires water at some level or other.
But currently due to irregular weather patterns and global warming, water has become perhaps the most valuable commodity and every country and city on Earth is doing their best in order to conserve water, which is becoming scarce day by day. With more and more cities experiencing drought like condition in recent times, everyone has become aware of the need to save and store water.
Even the methods to save and conserve water has become clearly out of the box. Common methods are rainwater collection, less use of water, recycling of water etc. But the mayor of Los Angeles, US found out a novel idea to conserve water. Find out what it is?
1 Innovative way to conserve water
California is facing a record breaking drought this season and every city in the state is doing its bit to save as much water as they can.
Lost Angeles on the other hand came up with a very innovative idea to save water in the city’s biggest water reservoir. Officials released 96 million floating ‘shade balls’ into the 75-acre Los Angeles Reservoir in Sylmar, California. The black plastic balls are designed to help protect the water against dust, rain, chemicals and wildlife, as well as prevent 300 million gallons of water from evaporating each year.
2 What are shade balls?
Shade balls are round shaped plastic balls covered in carbon black, a food-safe pigment with an albedo near zero. Both these characteristics are vital for explaining why the balls are designed to be a dull light-absorbing black instead of a shiny light-reflecting white, and are a lot more important than a bit of heat.
The purpose of the balls is to provide shade and not prevent evaporation. Their primary purpose however is to not let sunlight in the water, hence stopping ultraviolet light from catalyzing the water with chemical reactions.
Because water contains chlorine and when chlorine reacts with the sunlight, it makes carcinogenic compound bromate. For most people, exposure to bromate – created from naturally-occurring bromide in water -is unlikely to be cause problems.
But some people who ingest large amounts of bromate have suffered nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
3 Why the use of shade balls by Los Angeles?
The idea to use the shade balls for water conservation came from Dr Brian White, a now-retired Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP biologist). He got the idea when he came to know about the use of bird balls in ponds near runways.
These balls are similar to shade balls and are used to prevent birds from accessing the water of the ponds, hence restricting their presence in air near the runway.
Mayor Eric Garcetti joined officials yesterday to release the final 20,000 shade balls as part of the region’s $34.5 million water quality protection project.’In the midst of California’s historic drought, it takes bold ingenuity to maximize my goals for water conservation,’ Garcetti said. ‘This effort by LADWP is emblematic of the kind of the creative thinking we need to meet those challenges.’ He added at the end.
The polyethylene balls are expected to save $250 million when compared to other, similar techniques to protect the water. ‘In addition to cutting back on the need to chemically treat our water to prevent natural occurrences like algae, these shade balls are a cost-effective way to reduce evaporation each year by nearly 300 million gallons, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people for a full year,’ added Councilman Mitch Englander.
4 Benefits of shade balls
The shade balls are made from polythene and costs around 36 cents each. Their color is black, because it is the only color that deflects UV rays. The LADWP placed millions of shade balls until more permanent measures could be taken to properly decontaminate the water supply. Being reasonably priced, shade balls are the utility’s low cost no maintenance answers to a serious problem.
The shade balls also prevent algae from growing in the water. Thereby reducing the amount of chlorine used in the water to control the growth of algae. Further this chlorine acts with water to form bromide, which if ingested in large quantities by humans, can be seriously dangerous.
Besides, they are the most economic and safe way of conserving water in the open without using any chemicals or building big shades and using UV filters in the water.
5 Video of millions of shade balls beings released in the reservoir
The utility has been testing the concept since 2008, reporting that shade balls reduce evaporation by 85 to 90 percent. That should equate to saving nearly 300 million gallons a year, enough to provide drinking water for 8,100 people, said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitchell Englander.
Further the governor of LA added,” The balls also inhibit microorganism growth, reducing the treatment the water must undergo through other means. That could save the city $250 million over time.”